College of Music Program Book 2011-2012: Ensemble & Other Performances, Volume 3 Page: 73
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PROGRAM NOTES (cont'd)
Vivaldi opens the first movement with a ritornello borrowed from his opera Giustino
(1724) that depicts the arrival of spring with an outburst ofjoyous celebration. The episode
that follows is one of the most illustrative and memorable passages of the work, portraying
the birdsong that announces this happy season. A chirping trill in the solo violin begins the
scene, and the first and second violins soon follow with trills of their own. The entry of an
abbreviated ritornello catches us by surprise, drawing us back into the development of the
After an episode that portrays a trickling stream and second brief ritornello, dark
clouds overtake the peaceful scene. A rumbling tremolo announces an approaching storm,
sending the birds to flight. The soloist flashes forth with a series of brilliant arpeggios, and
the ensemble answers with more tremolos. With each fulguration, we are drawn nearer to the
minor mode. How different the ritomello sounds cast in this light. All its joyful excitement
has fled, and in its place there is the clash and violence of the storm. The storm passes, and
slowly we hear life again awakening with the return of birdsong. A cadenza-like passage
and one last ritornello bring the movement to a satisfying close.
Representing the first tercet of the sonnet, the slow movement produces a sobering
contrast to the opening Allegro. Vivaldi pares down the orchestra, leaving only the soloist
and upper strings. The opening measure sets the mise-en-sc&ne with a lulling figure in the
violins and short yelps in the violas, which play the part of the dog. The scene is ready for
the soloist, who takes on the role of the sleepy goatherd.
The last movement renders in music the final tercet of the sonnet. Accompanied by
the sound of bagpipes, nymphs and shepherds gather in a forest glade for a festive dance. The
pastoral instruments are imitated in the lower strings and continuo, which play long tones
and drones. The upper strings join together with the soloist in the ritornellos, depicting the
joyful dance of the shepherds and nymphs. With the elegant simplicity of the harmonies and
a dramatic tension achieved through subtle contrasts, Vivaldi paints a Botticellian portrait
of spring's awakening and the vitality that it inspires.
[Allegro] The Spring has come, and, festively,
the birds salute it with their joyful song.
And the streams, caressed by gentle Zephyr's breeze,
flow in the meantime with sweet murmurings.
Covering the sky with dark mantles,
Come lightning and thunder, heralds of Spring.
Once they are quiet, little birds return
to fill the air with their enchanting song.
[Largo] Within a flowery meadow, now in bloom,
and to the gentle murmur of leaves and grass,
a goatherd dozes beside his faithful dog.
[Allegro] Rejoicing to the festive sound of bagpipes,
nymphs and shepherds dance within a glade
at the appearance of the brilliant Spring.
Here’s what’s next.
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University of North Texas. College of Music. College of Music Program Book 2011-2012: Ensemble & Other Performances, Volume 3, book, 2012; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc114725/m1/73/: accessed March 30, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Music Library.