Martin Pearlman and Boston Baroque Record Vivaldi's The Four Seasons
Introducing Talented Young Baroque Violinist Christina Day Martinson
Also Contains Two Concerti Grossi By Geminiani, Including Variations on La Follia
For years, Telarc has urged its premier baroque orchestra to record Vivaldi’s great violin showpiece, the ever fresh, ever popular Four Seasons. The ensemble, whose eighteen earlier discs include both well-known and lesser known masterworks, has enjoyed international critical and popular success with releases such as Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos and Orchestral Suites, Handel’s Concerti Grossi Op. 6, Water Music and Royal Fireworks Music, and choral recordings including Bach’s B minor Mass, the Requiems of Mozart and Cherubini, Handel’s Messiah, and Monteverdi’s great Vespers of 1610. Fanfare wrote that “each one of [its recordings] is an incomparable gem,” and Boston Baroque is widely reviewed as one of the premier period-instrument ensembles in the world.
Why The Four Seasons? The only possible reason to record another version of The Four Seasons is to introduce a new, astonishingly talented young baroque violinist to the musical public. Even then, the soloist should have the one-of-a-kind support that comes only from a world-class period-instrument orchestra and conductor, as well as the sonics of a world-class recording team.
The stunning new young soloist is Christina Day Martinson, a native of Saskatchewan, Canada, and twice a National Finalist and prize-winner in the Canadian Music Competition. Ms. Day Martinson received her Bachelor of Music degree from the New England Conservatory, holds a diploma from the Royal Conservatory in the Netherlands, and earned a Master of Music degree in historical performance from Boston University. It was at the Boston University School of Music that Ms.Day Martinson – who was already an accomplished performer on modern violin – made the decision to concentrate on period violin and baroque performance. She studied performance practice with Martin Pearlman, who became her mentor and provided her first professional opportunities on period violin, and trained with Marilyn McDonald, a leading American teacher of baroque violin (and concertmaster for this recording).
Ms. Day Martinson writes: "When I came to the baroque violin a new world of expression opened up to me. It was liberating to discover the variety of sounds, shapes and colours of this new instrument. The expressive possibilities seemed endless, with the flexibility of the baroque bow and the raw, speaking quality of the gut strings. My connection to the baroque violin was immediate and visceral. I felt free to express myself in ways I'd always wanted."
Ms. Day Martinson performs regularly as soloist, concertmaster and orchestra member with Boston Baroque, and she has appeared as concerto soloist with Tempesta di Mare, UNICAMP Symphony Orchestra in Brazil, and Amsterdam’s Symphony Orkest Mozart. She has participated in the Spoleto Festival dei due Mondi, Italy; the SHIRA International Orchestra, Israel; Aston Magna Music Festival, Carmel Bach Festival, and the Boston Early Music Festival. This is Ms. Day Martinson’s first recording.
The Four Seasons, one of the most famous pieces of classical music, circulated widely in Vivaldi’s time. Years later, though, it fell out of the repertoire for over a century before being “rediscovered” in the first part of the 20th century. First published in Amsterdam in 1725, The Four Seasons are the first four of a set of twelve concertos with the overall title Il cimento dell’armonia e dell’inventione (The contest between harmony and invention), Op. 8.
The original publication that included The Four Seasons provided a sonnet (possibly by Vivaldi himself) giving a detailed program for each of the four concertos, and indicating pictorial effects in greater detail than any other work of Vivaldi. These include bird calls; angry tremolos designated as “thunder;” gentle dotted rhythms marked “the murmuring of the fronds and plants”; the viola as “barking dog;” a pastoral dance with the sound of bagpipes; the voice of the cuckoo and the turtle dove; a furious summer storm; a depiction of “drunks;” an imitation of horn calls in “the hunt;” the shiver of Winter, with its blasts of wind and chattering of teeth, sliding on the ice, falling as it cracks, and the joy of resting peacefully by the fireside. Too many to name here, they are all spelled out in the sonnets and notes that accompany the CD.
Like Vivaldi, Francisco Geminiani was one of the great violin virtuosos of the age as well as an elegant composer and important theorist. The two concerti performed on this disc come from a set of twelve concerti based on Corelli’s violin sonatas, opus 5; this was both a good decision from the point of view of sales and an homage to Geminiani’s brilliant teacher. The final work in both the Corelli and Geminiani sets—and the final piece on this recording—is a famous set of variations on the popular dance tune La follia, on which variations have been written from Marais to C.P.E. Bach, Liszt, and Rachmaninoff.
Boston Baroque is the resident professional ensemble for Boston University’s Historical Performance Program.
Martin Pearlman is among this country’s leading interpreters of baroque and classical music on both period and modern instruments. Hailed for his “fresh, buoyant interpretations,” and his “vivid realizations teeming with life,” Pearlman has been acclaimed for more than thirty years in the orchestral, choral, and operatic repertoire from Monteverdi to Beethoven. In addition to his work with Boston Baroque, Mr. Pearlman has conducted The Washington Opera in his Kennedy Center debut; the National Arts Centre Orchestra of Ottawa; Minnesota Orchestra; New World Symphony; Utah Opera; Opera Columbus; and Boston Lyric Opera.