Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Music for Winter


Probably Antonio Vivaldi’s best-known work, “Winter” – “L’inverno” – is a section of a work, “The Four Seasons,” composed in 1723 in which each season is vividly brought to life in music. Each season is presented as a separate violin concerto. Vivaldi originally scored the work for string quartet and basso continuo; contemporary performances often use a chamber orchestra to accompany the soloist. My favorite part of this concerto is the first movement, Allegro non molto. It’s short but sounds to me exactly the way winter should sound.; Winter rushing in and shocking us with its audacity. I like the way Signor Vivaldi ends his concerto with a bit of a recapitulation of the first movement.

This music has been my “earworm” this entire week. I think in our little corner of the universe we have experienced almost everything winter can throw at us, beginning with last week’s Nor’easter. Gentle snowfall yesterday. Ice today, followed by above freezing temperatures (a rarity this winter) and some slight melting, especially of the long icicles hanging off our gutters.

When I look out my front window I see those icicles, varying lengths in their elongated descending pyramids, not quite clear ice because of the way they have formed, a drip of water at a time. Beyond that is my front yard, now mostly monochromatic, probably thirty inches or more of snow. A drift of snow separates the two oak trees in the front of my house that have grown together over many decades. Beyond, in my neighbors’ yards, I see trees that are bare of leaves; some larger, vertical tree limbs seem to have been delicately iced with white. I see neighbors’ roofs with snow piled high and icicles also hanging from the gutters.

Driving is challenging; the snow is piled so high by the plows it is difficult sometimes to see around a corner, so drivers carefully inch out a little further than we usually would in order to see better. Driving requires keeping one eye on oncoming traffic and the other on the roadway, trying to spot potholes, difficult to see especially at dusk and after dark. Unfortunately, nearly all of us discover some of these potholes in the worst possible way, by slamming into them. I drive more slowly to try and avoid damage to my car.

Walking is challenging. Snow has melted and refrozen so most walkways have icy surfaces. We all try and keep the ice clear, but materials to help melt the ice have become almost impossible to find. I used the last of my supply this afternoon on my front sidewalk.

Winter will pass, of course, and spring will be very welcome this year. But Vivaldi’s music makes all the trials of a severe winter a little more palatable. The artists in this Youtube video are not credited but the photographs of the season are lovely. You will need to copy and paste to your browser, but you'll be glad you did.