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Astor Piazzolla, The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires (Cuatro Estaciones Porteñas)

Review of the Work - İngilizce

The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires is an extraordinarily interesting work. In its final shape, it takes a tango-inspired work by Piazzolla and combines it with elements easily recognizable from Vivaldi's model. Not only does it share with Vivaldi the general concept of depicting four seasons in music; it also presents a solo violin featured within an orchestral texture in highly virtuosic style. Yet initially, this work was written for a folk ensemble, not at all for virtuoso violin. The first to perform it was the composer's own folk/chamber ensemble, specialists in nuevo tango.

In 1991 Jaques Morelenbaum arranged the work for a woodwind quintet, three cellos, and a double bass; and it was recorded for an album called The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires. The title paid obvious homage to Vivaldi's idea. Nevertheless, there was still no solo violin part in either the folk ensemble version or the classical chamber music version of the piece, and neither
version made harmonic or melodic references to Vivaldi. Finally, in the late 1990's, Leonid Desyatnikov arranged the classical chamber music version for full string orchestra with solo violin, and included obvious allusions to Vivaldi's Four Seasons. This is the version of the work we will hear today.

Desyatnikov's linkages to Vivaldi are ingenious. For instance, when it is summer in Argentina, Piazzolla's homeland, it is winter in Italy, Vivaldi's homeland. To recognize this, Desyatnikov took Piazzolla's Summer movement and skillfully wove direct quotes from Vivaldi's Winter movement into the texture of the music. For those familiar with Vivaldi's music, the insertion is obvious and creates a delightful "Ah-HA" moment of recognition. Listeners unfamiliar with the Vivaldi work may miss this fun; but they will still respond to the exciting rhythmic momentum established by Piazzolla's tango-inspired rhythmic pulse and Desyatnikov's skillfully orchestrated arrangement.

Piazzolla was an experimenter. Expressive dissonances and abrupt shifts in tempo and meter are elements of his style that demand the audience's concentration and yet continually delight the imagination. Desyatnikov has taken those elements and transferred them into the world of the virtuoso violin concerto. Various special effects on the instruments required to perform this work continually entertain and amaze us. The extraordinarily difficult solo violin part is played sometimes using the bow hair, and at other times the wooden part of the bow. In all four movements, the string instruments turn into an extended percussion section, and then revert to a more traditional style.

In Vivaldi's The Four Seasons, each season includes three short movements. Piazzolla's variation gives each season only one movement. Each of Piazzolla's seasons, however, contains several sections that depict different moods within the single movement. The Summer movement, for example, contrasts the sassy, rhythmic tango with remnants of the Italian Baroque. An extended, melancholy cello solo dominates the first section of the Fall season. Slow, sultry, yet intensely rhythmic, Winter gives the solo violinist the perfect opportunity for cadenza-like displays of virtuosity. Even more quotes from Vivaldi, this time from his Summer, are woven seamlessly into Piazzolla's intensely emotional Winter tango. In contrast, Spring in Buenos Aires is filled with excitement and a rhythmic electricity that propels the work to its brilliant conclusion.

Cuatro estaciones porteñas is a significant, highly entertaining, ingenious and inspired addition to the 20th-century violin repertoire.

Beth Fleming


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Reference info: "Astor Piazzolla, The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires (Cuatro Estaciones Porteñas)", 2009 , Klasik Notlari website, http://www.klasiknotlari.com/en/36/Astor_Piazzolla_The_Four_Seasons_of_Buenos.html


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