New Year’s Eve Discovery

Classical music has been the background track for most of my adult life, so how could I have missed hearing the group Europa Galante under Fabio Biondi’s direction? My guess is they are so different from the norm the gatekeepers at classical music outlets find them too “pop-ish” to add to their curation. For whatever reason I missed them over all these years, I was delighted to hear Minnesota Public Media’s play their Concerto for Two Mandolins by Vivaldi this morning.

Here was the first piece of recorded classical music I purchased when I was a teen. It is safe to say that I have heard this Vivaldi work hundreds of times. I put down my coffee cup and took my eyes from my computer screen to listen with new ears to this familiar and overplayed music.

Here was a group breathing new life and excitement into the works of a composer who, through overexposure, has lost much of his ability to captivate me. Biondi and his musicians revitalize the work with unexpected phrasing, surprising tempo, unusual arrangement, and “licks” that are at once familiar as rock or jazz-inspired.

I could not find a recording of the mandolin concerto to attach here, but just as moving is Europa Galante’s recording of Vivaldi’s Winter from The Four Seasons. (Below) An old chestnut, so commercialized, it is hard not to visualize some product usually sold around the holidays. However, it is much easier to put that aside when I hear Biondi’s interpretation, animating the snow and ice storm and the sweet warmth of escaping to a cozy indoor fire while the storm rages outside.

Climate change keeps Kentucky winters on the mild side, but a cold front swept through last evening, bringing us temperatures in the low 30’s and a wintry mix of precipitation. Not nearly the tempest Vivaldi might be suggesting, but it will do.

The last day of 2020 leaves me with the hope of discoveries that lie ahead in the New Year.


Quote Of The Day – provided by Thomas Brown,

“Now is where love breathes.”
— Rumi

Art: “A Winter’s Evening” – ”En vinteraften” – painted in 1886 by Anders Andersen-Lundby (1841 – 1923). Oil on canvas; dimensions: 75.5 x 105.4 cm or 29.72 x 41.50 in. Private Collection.