Between the Seasons
Arctic Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra
Henning Kraggerud, violin
Simax Classics, 2017
Between the Seasons is not just another recording of Antonio Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, but it offers an original approach to this celebrated masterpiece. Each of the four concertos of the Four Seasons corresponds to a period of Vivaldi’s life, from his beginnings as a music teacher at the Ospedale della Pietà in Venice, to the glorious career that made him a favourite of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI and to his last years in Vienna, where he died in poverty.
In addition to the Four Seasons, we find four more works between them. These works (Preghiera, Postludium in B flat minor, The Last Leaf and Victimae Paschali) are composed by Henning Kraggerud. Their intermediate position gives the idea that they are intended both comments and links from one concerto to the other. This continuity can be considered the thread of Between the Seasons – a continuity based on one of the most powerful natural element: the wind.
Between the Seasons: the Four Seasons
Violinist Henning Kraggerud and the Arctic Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra play beautifully. Their purpose seems to be that to prove that each season has its own way to be full of joy, though in different ways.
Spring is definitely the season of the most spontaneous liveliness. It is enough to listen to the renowned first movement, where the onomatopoeic tweeting of birds is emphasized by the performers. For its part, Summer reveals a more mature kind of happiness. Kraggerud plays the first and third movements with energy, as if the is trying to enjoy summer as long as he can with the fear that it will end soon.
Autumn, anyway, begins in a favourable way and its first Allegro sounds quite optimistic. It is only with the lethargic Adagio molto that change is in the air. The orchestra is remarkable in this movement for its soft sound that seems to lull the listener. Winter is maybe the finest concerto of this set. The orchestra really seems a chill wind in the first movement. Then, it continues with the evocation of a cosy room where the violin sounds really warm and familiar. Finally, Winter ends with an Allegro which represent an effective picture of a frozen land.
Between the Seasons: Four More Works
Next to the four concertos of the Four Seasons and their joie de vivre, there are Kraggerud’s four pieces. As I previously wrote, they can be considered a meditation and even a moral. They harmonize well with Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, though they reveal a more melancholic mood. Even a piece like the thoughtful Preghiera is not out of place between Spring and Summer. It is remarkable for its crystalline sounds and the delicate tunes that Kraggerud and his orchestra play with a sort of reverential fear.
The Postludium in B flat minor is taken from Equinox – 24 Postludes in all keys. It is placed between Summer and Autumn. This piece does not seem to have very much in common with Vivaldi’s vivacity, but it acquires meaning to hear it after the animated Tempo impettuoso d’estate and before the first Allegro of Autumn.
The Last Leaf – Magnus in Memoriam separates Autumn and Winter. It is performed with what can be called “passionate nostalgia”. In some passages, especially in the middle, seems to become excruciating (listen to the acute notes of the strings and the increasing tension).
Finally, we have Victimae Paschali, a piece that, on Kraggerud’s part, is performed with deep emotion, even pity, while the orchestra confirms the sad mood with gloomy and soft sound.