Four Seasons – NZSO

The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra brought eight seasons to Tauranga on Friday with Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, and Piazzolla’s Cuatro Estaciones Porteñas.

Vivaldi’s Four Seasons are arguably the most popular pieces of classical music in the world, everyone has heard them in adverts, films, tv, maybe even occasionally in the concert hall! Each of the four pieces: Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter follow the same pattern of a fast movement, a slow movement, and a fast movement. Prior to each piece being performed, a member of the orchestra stood up and read a sonnet that that piece had been inspired from, it was a great introduction to each piece and made the audience think about it in a more open way, seeing it with fresh eyes.

Each season had a different violin soloist performing. For Spring we had Anna van der Zee, Summer- Alan Molina, Autumn- Malavika Gopal, and Winter- Simeon Broom. All the soloists were fantastic, however there was a standout performer in my opinion and it was Alan Molina: his virtuosity, his passion, the way he made the audience hang on every note rightly deserved the largest cheer of the night. What was particularly exciting about each of the four pieces was not all the short bits that we’ve all heard counless times before, but the other moments, the more quiet, more passionate, more intriguing moments, listening with fresh ears and the words of the sonnets still ringing it was a fantastic and rather unique expierience.

Whilst Vivaldi’s Four Seasons was always going to be a hit, I came to Piazzolla’s Cuatro Estaciones Porteñas (the Desyatnikov arrangement) with completely fresh ears. There was an introduction to this second half, and again, each of the four soloists from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons returned for Piazzolla’s, though the two men this time switched seasons.

I was blown away by Piazzolla’s work, whilst each of the four pieces was only movement, he had replicated Vivaldi’s fast-slow-fast method, and in the last two pieces, snippets of Vivaldi’s work actually feature in the work. Cuatro Estaciones Porteñas roughly translates as the Four Seasons of Buenos Aires, the pieces are primarily new-tango, mixing classical music and jazz with tango as Western audiences know it.

This time Molina perfoms the final piece, and as with the Vivaldi, he stole the show with his skill and ability, it was breathtaking. An element of the staging that I thought was very effective was the lighting: for each season the lighting was slightly different to help signify which season we were in, winter being blues and whites for instance, it was a great touch and just tied everything together that little bit better.

When I first sat down I was surprised that the Vivaldi pieces were first, I thought they would be last as a way of keeping the listener through the less well know piece, but I am so glad that the order was Vivaldi first! Personally, I preferred and was more emotionally moved by the Piazzolla works, they were so passionate, so open and emotive that I was just on tenterhooks. The Vivaldi did a fantastic job though reintroducing us all to these beautiful pieces, the intricacies and themes on full display. A fantastic evening with the cheers and standing ovation at the end definitely proving it.

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