Lockdown Lesson 2

Answers to The Four Seasons

The first video was “Summer”.
The first two movements paints a picture of the suffocating summer heat. You can imagine the sun bearing down on a barren desert during the moments of low energy. The oppressive heat finally gives way to a powerful summer storm in the famous third movement.

The second video was “Autumn”.
This concerto portrays the autumn harvest festivals, where everybody would be dancing and celebrating. If you listen near the beginning of the first movement you can hear the violinist sounding out of tune like he’s playing drunk!
The second movement is very different in feel, slow and woozy as they wake up after a late party, feeling a little worse for wear.

The third video was “Winter”.
The first movement has a desolate, lifeless feel to it which is interrupted by powerful icy winds, represented by the solo violinist.
In the second movement there is an altogether different feel, more intimate as if we are sat inside by the fire. If you look and listen carefully you will see the accompanying violinist playing their instrument pizziacto – plucking the strings. This drip drop sound is supposed to portray rain falling outside.

The last video was “Spring”, possibly the most famous of the four concerti.
You can hear the birdsong chirping with the violin’s trills (notes fluttering up and down quickly). The violins actually are copying the sounds of many different types of birds here, and the whole of the first movement is bustling with life, gentle breezes and murmuring streams.

How many did you get right? You might want to go back and listen to parts of the concerti again, listening out for the sounds described above. Do you feel the music differently now you know which song is which?

Other instruments in the accompanying orchestra were:

Violin Family:
Violins (smallest and highest)
Violas (a bit bigger/lower)
‘Cellos (large and lower still, played sitting down)
Double Bass (biggest and deepest, played standing up)

Harpsichord: Looks like a piano but sounds more metallic, and the white and black keys are the other way around – this, along with the organ, were keyboard instruments before the piano was invented. They always play at the same volume, no matter how hard you press the keys. The piano was the first keyboard instrument that could be played at different volumes, and the piano’s full name, pianoforte, literally translates to quiet-loud!

Lute: A very old instrument from the same family as the guitar. Here you can see it is extra big with a very long neck and even more strings.