Performance comparison: Winter

I was recently driving home, listening to the local classical station--yes, amazingly enough, Seattle still has classical music broadcast on the radio--when I was immediately taken by the music that was playing. The piece seemed familiar and yet I couldn't decide if it was from the Baroque era or if it was perhaps a modern, minimalist piece. Soon enough I realized that I was listening to one of the oldest of warhorses, "Winter" by Vivaldi. The musicians had so reinvented the work that it almost seemed like a new piece.

The performance linked below by Itzak Perlman, one of the greatest violinists of our time, is top drawer in every way. He sets a high bar for technical accomplishment and expressive performance:

Itzak Perlman performs "Winter" by Vivaldi

But it was Fabio Biondi, a violinist with whom I was entirely unfamiliar, that I found so startling during my commute. He led his musicians to create a performance that is entirely alive and truly makes it seem that the music was written just recently.

Fabio Biondi performs "Winter" by Vivaldi.

Fabio Biondi and his ensemble Europa Galante are part of the early music movement, that is, playing music on the instruments or copies of the instruments, for which the composers wrote and with the performance practice of the time. I can't say that I truly believe this is the way that Vivladi heard these works and yet this reimagination is just what my modern ears need to hear these pieces for the gems that they are. This level of creativity is the challenge to every artist no matter their medium.