CD of the Week: Daniel Hope: For Seasons

The violinist complements Vivaldi’s famous concertos with twelve short yet vibrant pieces depicting each month, with composers ranging from Rameau (1683-1764) to Aphex Twin (b. 1971).

Since the inception of recording technology, hundreds of recordings of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons have been captured by one brilliant mind after the next. With so many excellent recordings out there already, how can a soloist bring a fresh approach to the set of four violin concertos? One violinist has managed to do just that: Daniel Hope, Music Director of the Zurich Chamber Orchestra.

There’s no way around it – Hope’s vivacious yet tenderly emotive performance in "The Four Seasons" alone would make this album one of the best. What makes this album unique, though, is Hope’s supplementation of "The Four Seasons" with twelve short works by composers ranging from Rameau to Kurt Weill to Aphex Twin, each a musical depiction of a given month. These dozen pieces are then accompanied by visual art, collectively forming an arc to tell the story of the changing of the seasons.

This concept album had been in the works for over twenty years, and as he writes in a press release, Hope is thrilled that the project has come to fruition:

“The 'For Seasons' idea arose in the early ‘90s as a way of exploring the artistic resonances of the seasons, their power to affect everything from literature and philosophy to painting and music. … This 'For Seasons' project has been swirling in my mind for almost twenty-five years, so I’m delighted that DG has finally made it happen.”

Accompanied by a range of soloists on some tracks and the Zurich Chamber Orchestra on others, Hope has arranged this album to form a complete story. This is one of the most creative and unique presentations of The Four Seasons to date, and though we will play tracks from it throughout the week, it's best enjoyed in its entirety.

Watch a trailer for For Seasons:

For more information and to purchase this recording, visit ArkivMusic.

Track listing:

1-3. Antonio Vivaldi: The Four Seasons: Spring
4-6. Antonio Vivaldi: The Four Seasons: Summer
7-9. Antonio Vivaldi: The Four Seasons: Autumn
10-12. Antonio Vivaldi: The Four Seasons: Winter
13. January – Nils Frahm: Ambre
14. February – Jean-Philippe Rameau: Danse des Sauvages (from Les Indes Galantes)
15. March – Max Richter: Spring 1 (from Recomposed: Vivaldi, The Four Seasons)
16. April – Aphex Twin: Avril 14th
17. May – Traditional: Amazing Grace
18. June – Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: June (from The Seasons)
19. July – Robert Schumann: Am leuchtenden Sommermorgen (from Dichterliebe)
20. August – Chilly Gonzales: Les doutes d’août
21. September – Kurt Weill: September Song (from Knickerbocker Holiday)
22. October – Johann Melchior Molter: Concerto pastorale: Aria II
23. November – Johann Sebastian Bach: Cantata BWV 115: Bete aber auch dabei
24. December – Chilly Gonzales: Wintermezzo
25. Postscriptum – Johannes Brahms: Guten Abend, gut’ Nacht