“The Four Seasons” by Antonio Vivaldi. Analysis
“Four Seasons” was written by Antonio Vivaldi in the 18th century and was first published in 1725 as the set of 12 concerto’s with the name “Il cimento dell’armonia e dell’inventione” (The Test of Harmony and Invention). This piece of music belongs to the Baroque period, so it has some special characteristics and stylistic issues, related to this period. Even French King Louis XV liked the part “Spring” of the “The Four Seasons” and enjoyed its performance in the most unexpected moments.
“Four Seasons” is the piece of music, which goes back by its ideas in the philosophy of Renaissance period, when music writers and performers followed Greek and Rome philosophy. According to it, music is the special kind of communication, which can evoke any emotion in its listeners. Vivaldi also supported this idea, so he created “The Four Seasons” very romantic and stylistically correct. He depicts four seasons of nature, each with its own peculiarities: spring comes with greenery, lots of bird singing, gentle breezes; the sunshine is the characteristic of summer; in autumn the nature is waiting to get rest, and colors of every trees are yellow, brown, orange and red; winter charms us with its white snow. Every season is beautiful in its kind – it’s the central idea of the “The Four Seasons”.
“Historically accurate” performance of “The Four Seasons” is possible with the help of “historically accurate” string instruments. In the Baroque period (1600-1750), strings were made not out of steel, like modern are, but of the sheep guts. They do not provoke extra vibration sounds, like steel strings. Some modern performers use such instruments nowadays, but it is rare, as the majority of modern instruments are made of steel strings, for louder sounds. Instruments with gut strings are perfect for small churches and small halls with good acoustics.
Listening “The Four Seasons” without sonnet lyrics is possible, but there is little sense in it. With the help of listening to the music and reading the lyrics, it is possible to reach the harmony, created by the sounds and the words. And this piece of music is very good for listening, when played on “historically accurate” instruments. It was played by the New Trinity Baroque Orchestra in St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in Atlanta, and one of the listeners called it “revelation” (Williams n.pg), as it was played on the old instruments. Although some new instruments can be invented, baroque music is still sounds good and many genres from Baroque period are still in use (Baroque Music n.pg)
Serenade for Strings in Cmajor, Op. 48 by Piotr Tchaikovsky. Analysis
Serenade for Strings in C major, Op. 48 was written by Piotr Tchaikovsky in the Romantic era, and was first presented to the audience in 1880. This piece of music belongs to the period of Romanticism, when there was a high development of the philosophy and different kinds of arts, especially music art. Romantic artists were more focused on fabulous, mystic, frightful; they believed in the superpowers of the nature in human fate. This period is reflected in the music by Piotr Tchaikovsky very well.
String instruments, like violin and piccolo, were very popular during the Romantic period, and as no instruments were invented since the Baroque period, they were widely played by the performers at that time. The manner of playing was in most cases similar to the manner of playing of the baroque period.
The first part of this music piece “Pezzo in forma di sonatina: Andante non troppo — Allegro moderato” is written by the influence of the Mozart’s music, with the slow introduction, in the form of sonatina; the last part of this piece called “Finale (Tema russo): Andante — Allegro con spirito” is played with violins and violas double stopping, with the formation of chordal structures. With the functions of the other pieces “Valse: Moderato — Tempo di valse” and “?l?gie: Larghetto elegiaco”, this piece of music is of strong impression on the listeners. It creates a special romantic atmosphere, especially when played in big concert halls.
By this period the steel strings were invented, and this fact made the revolution in sounding of string instruments. Unlike the gut strings, steel ones provoked strong sounds of vibration. This invention of transferring in sounding from gentle to strong kind, made it possible to create more pieces of music for playing for big audiences.
Die Forelle, Op.32, D. 550 (1817), The Trout by Franz Schubert. Analysis
“Die Forelle” (in English “The Trout”) was written in the summer 1817 for piano and solo voice. This piece of music belongs to the Romantic period, similar to the previous work analyzed. Franz Schubert depicted the natural feelings of humans, in comparison to the nature itself. For example, the composer compares the trout with the young woman, and the author gives her a warning from being caught by a man (compared to a fisherman).
This piece of music is not complete without lyrics (the text is derived from a Christian F. D. Schubart’s poem), and they both are reflecting the best features of Romantic period in the history of music art. In “Die Forelle” the romantic relationships are depicted in the full measure, the style of performance is lively, the melody is gradually going on, and it makes the way of playing very real, and at the same time – magical, like the heroes of the music were taken from a medieval forest, full of mysterious sounds and feelings.
Therefore, “Die Forelle” comprises the best features of romantic period in music that have found the possible way to be played by the different performers through centuries till the modern times. This piece of music is widely played in different concert halls nowadays, with preserving the unique atmosphere of Romantic period.
Quintet in A-major by Franz Schubert. Analysis
“Quintet in A-major” was composed by Franz Schubert in summer of 1828, just 2 months before his death. As for the whole life, Schubert was inspired by composing the great pieces of the piano music, soon before his death, he drove his attention to composing chamber music. He used some innovative technique for this issue, like employing 2 cellos instead of 2 violas (such an example was set by Mozart).
This piece of music is related to the Romantic period as well, with its concentration on the natural feelings and the nature itself, with respect to its mysterious processes and mysticism in the full measure. With the four movements in the Quintet A-major, the author tries to depict the four kinds of the interpretation of the life with the help of allegro, adagio, scherzo and allegretto pieces.
Similar to the composers of the previous centuries, “the composers of the Romantic era did not reject Classical music […] they were consciously emulating the composers they considered to be the great classicists: Haydn, Mozart, and particularly Beethoven”, “they continued to write […] forms that were all popular with classical composers […], kept the basic rules for these forms, as well as keeping the rules of rhythm, melody, harmony, harmonic progression, tuning, and performance practice”(Schmidt-Jones n.pg). That is why this music sounds good in every historical period.