Just as reviews started to emerge on the violinist Robert McDuffie’s 30-city tour with the Venice Baroque Orchestra performing “The Seasons Project” (a concert combining Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and Philip Glass’ new Violin Concerto No. 2), the recent CD release of the Glass concerto came flying across my desk.
The Glass concerto carries the subtitle “The American Four Seasons,” but this is not hyperbole. The work was co-commissioned by five U.S. arts centers, but oddly did not get its world premiere here. That premiere came last December by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Glass has stated that the concerto was not based by definition on the Vivaldi, but it was certainly inspired by it. The tour is now near its end (the final performance is in Atlanta on Friday) and I have yet to hear many discouraging words on this novel combination of Glass/Vivaldi in concert. Those that hate Glass will continue to do so unabated. But even those with qualifying remarks seem to be raving about Glass’ string writing. I would have to agree based on my own preliminary hearing.
I’ll be writing more about this work soon. And really, do you need a special reason to listen to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons? For those interested, here are links to two of the concert reviews:
Allan Kozinn, New York Times: “Through the Seasons With Glass and Vivaldi”
Anne Midgette, Washington Post: “Philip Glass reflects Vivaldi in ‘American Four Seasons’ at Strathmore”