Violin Concerto

Antonio Vivaldi

Violin Concerto in Eb major

Op. 8/5, RV253 • “La tempesta di mare (II)”

About this work

The first four works carrying this opus number are the well-known concertos making up what is perhaps Vivaldi's most popular effort, The Four Seasons. While those four pieces average a mere ten or eleven minutes each, this E flat major Concerto is a minute or two shorter yet. It is not short on energy and color, however, as is evidenced by the vivacious and sunny (Allegro e) Presto first movement and the busy Presto finale.

Many Vivaldi detractors will charge that much of thematic material, as well as the violin and string orchestra writing, sounds like so much other music by this composer. This concerto is certainly recognizable as Vivaldi, but its level of invention and freshness is fairly high, its moods exhilarating, its colors vibrant. It must be remembered that with 512 concertos in his catalog, Vivaldi could hardly be faulted for sometimes turning out music that sounded like a close cousin to a previous effort. The first movement here opens with string orchestra playing one of those busy-sounding rhythmic themes of Vivaldi. Yes, it sounds familiar, but the composer's masterful writing imparts color and variety, especially in the subsequent treatment given to the soloist and in related thematic material that follows. The violin part brims with energy throughout this three-minute movement and presents more than a few challenges to the soloist. The middle panel, marked Largo, is melancholy and graceful at the outset, but quickly develops tension. This movement's ending sounds abrupt, its conflicts unresolved. The finale begins energetically, again with a rhythmically-driven theme that busily but playfully hurries about. The mood remains lively throughout and the writing turns more colorful and brilliant as the ending approaches, both for the soloist and orchestra.

It should be noted there are two other Vivaldi concertos bearing the subtitle "La tempesta di mare:" the F major Chamber Concerto, RV 98, and the Concerto for Flute in F major, Op. 10/1, RV 433.