The four violin concertos in The Four Seasons were each inspired by an Italian sonnet, possibly written by Vivaldi himself. In each of the concertos the composer attempts to depict the pastoral scenes and events described in the sonnet.
In this Concerto in G minor, subtitled "Summer," he attempts to capture the bright scenery and mood of that warmest of seasons, but the music is more a mixture of good and bad than one might normally think: the sonnet opens: "Under the merciless summer sun...." Thus the first movement, despite its lively Allegro non molto marking, begins as if an oppressive pall hovers above, the music listlessly struggling forward. But soon the pacing turns lively and the mood brightens to depict singing birds and cool breezes. But after a brief tranquil section, the music suddenly becomes violent and frenzied, with the onset of a clash among neighbors. Calm returns soon, but the movement ends breathlessly, as a storm threatens to wreak troubles for the shepherd.
The ensuing Adagio -- Presto movement alternates between the lethargic but beautiful playing of the solo violin theme and the stormy interjections of the string orchestra. The text describes the tired shepherd and his fears of thunder and lightning. The storminess continues at the outset of the Presto finale, as the storm finally does begin to rage. The mood throughout this closing panel, whether in the writing for the orchestra or for the soloist, brims with tension, at times even frenzy, as this storm fells stalks of corn and ravages the countryside. This brief movement provides a brilliant finish to this colorful Concerto.
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