Antonio Vivaldi: Concerto in E Major, Op. 8, Number 1 (Spring)

Happy first day of spring!

Kurt Nemes' Classical Music Almanac

Happy Spring! Spring is my favorite season. Here, in DC where I live, it’s a bit slow in coming.  The cherry blossoms around the tidal basin and along the Potomac River haven’t yet opened.  So for the next few posts, I’ll be writing about pieces with a Spring theme.  I’m going to start with the eponymous concerto from Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons.

So what can you say about one of the most overplayed pieces of classical music of all times? Sure, it’s uplifting; sure it has a catchy tune; sure it captures wonder and joy of natures reinvention of itself in March. Oddly enough, I didn’t buy a copy of it until my mid 30s, and that was a used vinyl LP at a church sale. You don’t really need your own. Just wait until the 20th of March and tune to your local classical radio station and you will…

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Richard Goode, My Favourite Pianist

For two evenings at Carnegie Hall on May 1 and May 2, eminent pianist Richard Goode treats us to his critically acclaimed interpretations of Classical and Romantic repertoire. Included in the program are the monumental late Beethoven piano sonatas, works whose profound spirituality remain elusive to all but the most astute musicians. Mr. Goode, as the first American pianist to record all 32 of the Beethoven piano sonatas, is widely sought after as a leading expert in the field. Indeed, the story goes that after a concert in Houston in 1987, a member of the audience exclaimed, “Mr. Goode, you are Beethoven!” to which the pianist responded by cupping his ear and asking, “What did you say?”

In a comprehensive profile of Mr. Goode by David Blum for The New Yorker, the pianist is reported as comparing Beethoven to “a Roman architect, he made the structures profoundly right; his works are less destructible than those of other composers.” With each carefully articulated trill (such as those impossible ones in Op. 111), with each resounding chord, it is as if Mr. Goode is reconstructing the Pantheon of the Western musical tradition. Such an extraordinary finesse can only be the result of Mr. Goode’s perfectionism: one former student of his even attests that he would spend an entire lesson on a few bars, simply because Rome was not built in a day, so to speak. The student, Eve Wolf, Executive Director of the Ensemble for the Romantic Century, would later go on to hear performances of Mr. Goode’s in which he played without a single mistake. It is nothing short of a Herculean feat that Mr. Goode, in his lifelong dedication to Beethoven, inspires us to see that otherworldly perfection is not only possible but even within reach, just a few auditorium seats away.