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Through the Seasons With Glass and Vivaldi - from the New York Times review
November 15, 2010

By Allan Kozinn
New York Times
November 14, 2010

For the moment Mr. McDuffie is playing the work intact, alongside the Vivaldi, in "The Seasons Project," a 30-city tour with the Venice Baroque Orchestra that landed at Carnegie Hall on Wednesday evening. The idea is not entirely original: Gidon Kremer, Lara St. John and other violinists have paired the Vivaldi with Astor Piazzolla’s "Estaciones Porteñas" ("Four Seasons of Buenos Aires," 1964-70). But Mr. McDuffie’s program worked beautifully, not least because Mr. Glass’s work is packed with allusions to the Vivaldi, refracted through his own stylistic lens.

Collaborating with the Venice ensemble - a superbly polished period-instrument group known for its fresh, zesty Vivaldi recordings — was also a brilliant touch. Mr. McDuffie, as both soloist and conductor, is anything but an early-music purist. His vigorous, often electrifying account of the Vivaldi was steeped in Romantic expressive effects: carefully shaped phrases with ample rubato, dynamic suppleness and grand rallentandos at movement endings. But the Venetians matched his moves closely, and Mr. McDuffie adopted the Baroque practice of embellishing the solo line, elegantly and plentifully, with variations in the repeated sections.

For the Glass the ensemble’s string players took up modern instruments, and its keyboardist traded in his harpsichord for a Yamaha synthesizer. But the music’s impulses, particularly in the solo line, were tightly connected to those of the Vivaldi. Mr. Glass borrowed Vivaldi’s gestures — furiously bowed passages from "Summer" and "Winter," languid melodies from "Spring" - and transformed them into unmistakably Glassian figuration. Other influences crept in too: a rich, double-stopped solo passage in the first movement hinted at Bruch, and other passages brought to mind the Barber concerto, one of Mr. McDuffie’s specialties.

For the complete review:

Through the Seasons With Glass and Vivaldi

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