08 Nov 2012

Vivaldi – Concerto for Violin in E-flat Major, op. 8, No. 5 (La tempesta di mare)

By Jeff Counts

Instrumentation: continuo, strings

Duration: 8 minutes in three movements.

Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741) – Vivaldi finished his wonderfully named set of violin concerti Il cimento dell’armonia e dell’inventione (The Contest Between Harmony and Invention) in 1725. It was designed (or at least compiled) as a set of twelve but the first four have become so famous that it is easy to forget nos. 5-12 also belong to the original grouping. The opening quartet of Contest concerti makes up The Four Seasons of course and the latter siblings have always lived in the shadow of that legendary subset. Of the remaining eight concerti, three were given equally descriptive titles. Vivaldi wrote hundreds of concerti during his prodigious career and, as with Haydn’s 104 Symphonies, the nicknamed works often get the most attention. No. 5 is known as La tempesta di mare (The Sea Storm) and is one at least three works in Vivaldi’s catalogue to bear that subtitle. Concerto No. 5 is short, even by Vivaldi’s own standards, but the composer packed a significant amount of invention and brightness into the brevity. Though clearly much less familiar today than the Four Seasons, the Sea Storm is made up of the same exciting programmatic ingredients.