In his First Symphony, subtitled Spring, Robert Schumann captures the excitement of the season’s arrival with a lively country-dance like tune, brimming with cheerful optimism. It's just the thing for admiring burgeoning trees and flowers from indoors, or dancing in the kitchen, particularly when played by the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra.
There’s plenty of bucolic jauntiness in the London Symphony Orchestra’s recording of the Spring section of Haydn’s oratorio The Seasons. Don’t be put off by the grave opening bars; the sun will soon come out and brighten up any lockdown living room.
Haydn also captured the delight of the first spring on earth in his oratorio The Creation. “With verdure clad the fields appear delightful to the ravished sense” sings soprano Sarah Tynan in this hymn to abundance, with conductor Harry Christophers and the Handel and Haydn Society.
One of the most familiar evocations of the season in music is the bouncing allegro from Vivaldi’s Spring section of his Four Seasons, actually a set of violin concertos bolted together into a musical survey of the rural year, brilliantly played here by Itzhak Perlman and the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
Another contender for top evocation would be the opening movement of Beethoven’s Symphony No 6, played with a rustic edge by the period instruments of the Academie für Alte Musik, Berlin. But you may be less familiar with his delightful Sonata No 5 in F major for violin and piano, subtitled Spring. Its flowingly sinuous opening melody is beautifully handled here by Pinchas Zukerman and Daniel Barenboim, a partnership of equals, as Beethoven intended, rather than soloist and accompanist.
Cherry blossom time is almost over but recapture it here in the delicate Humming Chorus from Puccini’s Japanese tragedy Madama Butterfly, its pizzicato strings and dreamy melody supplied here by the Bergen National Opera.
But if that is just too softly sensuous, Stravinsky has the perfect antidote: a visceral, pounding sacrificial dance from his uncompromising Rite of Spring, a piece that caused a riot at its Parisian premiere in 1913. Listen to the composer himself conduct the London Symphony Orchestra and be amazed at how pure rhythmic ingenuity can translate into a breathtakingly intense dramatic experience.
|What||Music for Spring: fresh and joyful sounds of the season|
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