Robert Kapilow What Makes It Great? Vivaldi Four Seasons
Robert Kapilow Is What Makes It Great: Vivaldi’s Four Seasons
By Glen Creason
The Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts is certainly fortunate to have Robert Kapilow as a regular contributor to the entertainments at the big hall. If you have not been fortunate enough to attend one of his very popular shows you must imagine the best teacher you ever had taking something you took for granted and making it utterly fascinating. I am not talking about the Punic Wars or the Treaty of Ghent here but classical music warhorses some of us in the Boomer set have heard about as many times as “Satisfaction” by the Rolling Stones. Satisfaction might be the exact word to use as Kapilow de-constructs these great works of music and then demonstrates the genius of the compositions with great passion, despite what really amounts to a lecture with a couple of bells and whistles. The added color is in the form of a small orchestra, in this case the Riverside County Philharmonic which was up to Kapilow’s lofty standards while taking apart and putting back together the well-known “Four Seasons” written by the great Baroque era composer and violin virtuoso Antonio Vivaldi in 1725. Amongst hundreds of other colorful details Kapilow lets the audience know that Vivaldi’s otherworldly compositional inventiveness along with this extraordinary musicians technical ability allowed him to reach places most artists could not venture. Breaking down the “Spring” and “Summer” portions of the piece, Kapilow describes the literal notes to the score, the original sonnets of inspiration and opens up a whole new world to the listener. Vivaldi worked on a simple landscape that becomes more and more detailed and inviting as the sounds are explained in detail. This well-chosen masterpiece is literally a tone poem in which the composer paints a picture of the seasons in four concerti with stunning clarity and vitality. By the time the appetizing first half of the concert is complete and Robert Kapilow has truly set the stage for the actual performance the audience is sitting up in rapt attention, awaiting the musical miracles Kapilow has shone his light upon. Sure enough, when the Riverside County Philharmonic began to play the piece the sound was a revelation and absolutely exhilarating as the story unfolds from the singing of birds to the crashing of thunder to the languor of a Summer heat wave. You may have heard the “Four Seasons” in many settings from movie sound tracks to wedding receptions but after hearing Kapilow open it up and the orchestra play it you will never hear it the same again. Typically the concerto form features a solo instrument backed by an orchestra and in the Riverside Phil’s case the essential solo violin role was superbly accomplished by beautiful Chee-Yun. Miss Yun was up to the great demands of the piece, playing with fervor through stormy expressions and caressing the gentle melodies in pastoral scenes. She soared to the heights of the allegro in Autumn and accomplished the staccato of the icy rainfall in Winter with precision and elegance. The young lady was not exactly alone and while she was a literal lightening rod of this performance the young orchestra was perfect in both halves of the performance, from the barking dog of the viola to the thunder from cello and bass. With Kapilow’s words and conducting along with the Riverside County Philharmonic’s skillful performance of Vivaldi’s two hundred and eighty-five year old composition a full house found something new and wonderful on this night at Cerritos.