There is plenty of research available to demonstrate the benefits of music on our health – improving focus, concentration, mood, sometimes even relieving pain.  I’ll be returning to this in more detail in future posts.  But for now, I can say that it does not take hard scientific evidence for me to know that listening to some beautiful pieces by Vivaldi has a relaxing and calming result.

When I made the decision to listen to all the music on my iPhone, there were several different ways of approaching such a mammoth task.  I decided in the end to work through the music list on my iPhone alphabetically artist by artist. After ABBA in the list is ‘Academy of Ancient Music’.  The talented players of the AAM, directed by Andrew Manze, are playing in this instance the concert of music which was performed for Prince Frederick Christian, son of the King of Poland and Elector of Saxony in Venice on the evening of March 21st 1740.  How fabulous to think that this event can be recreated whenever we like all these years later.  We are treated to crisp, sensitive renditions of six Vivaldi pieces on period instruments – here is a link for all the listings.

My favourite is the final piece – the Concerto in C Major (RV 558) for two recorders, two chalumeaux, two mandolins, two theorbos, two violins in tromba marina, violoncello and strings. The line up makes fabulous reading in itself, doesn’t it.  And the music does not disappoint.  Mr Manze describes it in the CD notes as a ‘vertiable Noah’s Ark’ and it is full of frills, twills and riches.  I stopped listening to The Four Seasons long ago because it semed so over-played, despite being a masterpiece of composition. With this set of works, it’s nice to hear Vivaldi’s brilliance once again, without the familiarity of the music.

And I can well appreciate the hard work which has gone into the recording.  When I was younger, and half decent at playing the violin and piano, I used to have a bash at Vivalidi’s work with friends.  I can remember all too well how fiendish the pieces are to play, and the lightness of touch with which these are performed by the AAM belies the level of skill needed to deliver an effortless-sounding rendition.

Neither Mr Tracks nor I can recall how this CD came into our music collection.  Neither of us had listened to it before I came to write this post.  This illustrates perfectly the benefits for me of undertaking this project.  I am instantly finding and enjoying music I did not know I had.  It is also giving me a chance to sort out my iTunes library – no use having this under the AAM – I’m much more likely to look for it under Vivaldi.  I have updated the listing for future reference – and am feeling very virtuous and organised!

We’ll come to some more Vivaldi when we reach a more conventional place in the alphabet.  In the meantime, the next post will bring us back from eighteenth century Venice to modern day Glasgow.


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