LD takes on Vivaldi’s Four Seasons April 12-14, 2024

(Cleveland) – Les Délices will close their 15th Anniversary Season with Seasons Transformed, a daring new spin on Vivaldi’s beloved Four SeasonsSeasons Transformed showcases the virtuosic talents of core LD musicians Julie Andrijeski, Shelby Yamin, Debra Nagy, Rebecca Reed, Mark Edwards, plus two vibrant young instrumentalists in their LD debuts: flutist Joseph Monticello and bassoonist Clay Zeller-Townson. Seasons Transformed will have three performances this April 12-14 in Akron, Cleveland Heights, and Rocky River.

Vivaldi’s classic works reimagined in vibrant new arrangements

Originally published 300 years ago, Vivaldi’s collection of four violin concerti The Four Seasons remain wildly popular today. Unusually, each concerto was published alongside an accompanying sonnet that explained the elements the music was intended to evoke, making Seasons a vibrant prototypical example of “program music.”

In Seasons Transformed, LD Artistic Director Debra Nagy has  daringly re-arranged AutumnWinter, and Spring for an ensemble of soloists, dividing up the material originally written for solo violin to be passed between two violins, oboe, flute, bassoon, harpsichord, and viola da gamba. Audiences will enjoy tunes they already love, reimagined in technicolor, embracing the full spectrum of colors, textures, and expressivity of its peerless ensemble of period instrument musicians. 

Why re-imagine Vivaldi’s beloved works? Les Délices Artistic Director explained, “Audiences in 18th Century France were totally enamored with Vivaldi’s Seasons. Not only were they heard regularly on concert stages in their original form, but they were transformed by other composers into grand motets with chorus or adapted to archetypically ‘French’ instruments like the flute and hurdy gurdy. I was inspired to bring this French history of adapting Vivaldi’s Seasons to light and the inclusion of wind instruments gives these performances a uniquely Gallic flair. Besides, why should violinists have all the fun??

For Summer, Nagy has an even more ambitious design: a brand-new concerto built from works by Jean-Philippe Rameau, the doyen of 18th-century theatrical music. Taking the same sonnet Vivaldi paired with his Summerthis ingenious pastiche composition divines blazing heat, bucolic shepherd scenes, and a tempestuous late-summer storm from Rameau’s opera-ballets Platée and Les Indes Galantes and solo harpsichord pieces. Nagy explained, “I’m always interested in giving audiences opportunities to fall in love with music and composers that they are less familiar with. Creating a Summer concerto from Rameau’s oeuvre seems like a perfect opportunity to combine the familiar and the unexpected. In fact, Rameau was one of the most inventive and exciting composers for the theater in the 18th Century and his works are full of incredible imagery as well as raw power. But when Rameau burst on to the scene as an opera composer in Paris in the mid 1730’s, his virtuosic and brilliantly orchestrated scores were met with both adoration and contempt. An anonymous reviewer even attacked Rameau’s Italian-inspired music by calling his opera Les Indes Galantes a ‘sonata,’ and claiming that he had been ‘racked, flayed, and dislocated’ by Rameau’s music, which was ‘a perpetual witchery.’ That’s not so unlike what people love about Vivaldi’s Seasons, right?”

Nagy has shown her prowess at this kind of historical recomposition in previous Les Délices projects, most notably in The White Cat, LD’s groundbreaking opera that fitted an English language libretto of a feminist fairytale to tunes by Marais, Couperin, Rameau, and others. Nagy describes this kind of historical recomposition as “musical collage” that breathes new life into old, familiar works.

A Baroque Peter and the Wolf

Apportioning the solo violin lines in the Seasons among the full ensemble empowers each instrumentalist to embody a different aspect of each season. Like a baroque Peter and the Wolf, each instrument will personify the sonnets’ elements; the silvery, dulcet baroque flute plays the bird songs in Spring while the robust, woodsy oboe becomes Autumn’s hunting horn and the bassoon, its drunkard. The haunting viola da gamba is the rustling winds and trembling spindly branches of Winter. As for the violin? She takes center stage in Winter‘s stunning slow movement,  displaying the full lyrical powers of the “singing” instrument.

Northeast Ohio audiences can experience Vivaldi’s Four Seasons as they’ve never been heard before this April 12-14th in Akron, Cleveland Heights, and Rocky River. A podcast episode with musical selections recorded during these concerts along with exclusive artist interviews will be released via LD’s SalonEra podcast on May 20, 2024.

Single tickets to all performances of Seasons Transformed ($28-$45-$10) are on sale now via the Les Délices website. Tickets also be purchased as part of a Flex Pack Subscription.

While Seasons Transformed marks the end of LD’s vibrant 2023-24 Concert Series, the ensemble looks forward to a full schedule of concerts, outreach events, and its annual benefit through the end of May. Visit lesdelices.org to view all details.

EVENT DETAILS:

WHAT: Seasons Transformed
Vivaldi’s classic works in daring new arrangements for flute, oboe, bassoon, a pair of violins, and continuo along with a world-premiere concerto-pastiche inspired by Summer.

THREE PERFORMANCES:
April 12, 2024 at 7:30 pm, Knight Stage at Akron Civic Theater, 182 South Main Street, Akron
April 13, 2024 at 7:30 pm, Disciples Christian Church, 3663 Mayfield Rd, Cleveland Heights
April 14, 2024 at 4:00 pm, West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church 20401 Hilliard Blvd, Rocky River