Henry Purcell (1659-1695)
Timon of Athens (Timon d’Athènes) : Curtain Tune (Air du rideau)
Primavera : Allegro – Largo – Allegro
Le Printemps : Le temps vole – Chaque saison s’enfuit – Les ruisseaux – Muzete – Danse des Bergers
L’Este : L’air s’enflamme – Zéphire desparoit – Chant des Coucous – Vole à notre secours O ! Cérès adorable – Un violent orage
L’Estate : Allegro non molto allegro – Adagio presto adagio – Presto
L’Automne : La Chasse
L’Autunno : Allegro – Adagio molto – Allegro
L’Hyver : La saison des frimats – Les riantes fêtes – Laissons gronder les vents
L’Inverno : Allegro non molto – Largo – Allegro
What if the Antonio Vivaldi’s famous Four Seasons (1678-1741), published in Amsterdam in 1725 and performed in Paris at the Concert Spirituel in 1728, had been preceded by those of Giovanni Antonio Guido (1675-1729), star violinist of Parisian orchestras of the maturity of Louis XIV, and Master of Music of the Regent Philippe D'Orléans, published in Versailles? The two works are finally presented in the same programme in spite of their differences: the well-known virtuosity of Vivaldi's work contrasts with the mixture of French good taste and Italian features of Guido's Seasons; before the very descriptive poem illustrated by Vivaldi's music with remarkable naturalism, Guido paid homage to each season, with a display of affects worthy of the French court.
To a great extent, Guido remains a mysterious musician, due to a lack of archives. Born around 1675, he was listed among the violin students of the Conservatorio della Pietà dei Turchini, in Naples, then among the musicians of the Royal Chapel, until 1702. He left for Paris and entered the service of Duke Philippe d'Orléans, future Regent of France and a great music lover, and became his Master of Music. He met Morin, Gervais and Forqueray, and contributed to introducting Italian music in France. He also entered the circle of the financier Pierre Crozat and gave concerts at his residence where Watteau and the banker Law were also visitors. Between 1713 and 1716, Crozat decided to redecorate his dining room and asked Watteau to paint four paintings on the theme of the seasons. It was probably to pay homage to this admirable new ensemble that Guido composed around 1717 his "Scherzi armonici sopra le Quattro stagioni dell'anno", based on four anonymous poems: Les Caractères des Saisons. Each of these "musical entertainments" had about ten movements, and even if it is called a concerto, it also resembles a French suite: the music is a clever mixture of Italian and French. The publication of Guido's Seasons in Versailles does not bear a date, but is thought to date from the period 1725-1733. In any case, Guido's Seasons are contemporary with Vivaldi's famous Seasons, perhaps a little earlier. So, who inspired whom?
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