ne of the first pieces of classical music I was exposed to was Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons. We didn’t have a lot of classical music at home when I was a child, so my exposure started later than, say, Irish folk music or Roger Miller.
There are eleventy-leven versions of Vivaldi’s most famous work, but the one that works for me is led by the insuperable Lorin Maazel. After experiencing this rendition, any other seems slightly mistimed; rushed, dragging, improperly syncopated, cadenzas which are frantic rather than energetic.
Maazel’s conducting envelopes each movement in the appropriate season’s textures, sensations, aromas, and sounds. I hear bugs flitting past during ‘Summer’; the flutter of leaves in ‘Autumn’; the rush of the wind in ‘Winter’, and the trickle of a nearby stream in ‘Spring.’
Vivaldi’s work, and especially this piece, and more especially this recording of it, invariably reduces my stress levels and reminds me that some things, unlike stress, are timeless.