Apollo’s Fire brings Vivaldi’s Four Seasons to Jorgensen 


Apollo's Fire Baroque Orchestra performs Vivaldi's Four Seasons at the Jorgensen. The orchestra also played Concerto in G Minor for Two Cellos and La folia.  Photo by Elizabeth He / The Daily Campus

Apollo’s Fire Baroque Orchestra performs Vivaldi’s Four Seasons at the Jorgensen. The orchestra also played Concerto in G Minor for Two Cellos and La folia. Photo by Elizabeth He / The Daily Campus

Last night, the crowd at Jorgensen braved one of the first cold autumn nights of the season as they made their way into the theater, but once they were escorted to their seats, the brisk night in Storrs became a sunny April day in 17th century Italy. Such is the power of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons; all it takes is the opening passage of “La Primavera,” to be suddenly transported somewhere else. It takes a great orchestra to transform a legendary piece of baroque music like that, and the nationally-renowned Apollo’s Fire delivered in full.  

Apollo’s Fire has been credited with taking music from centuries prior, blowing the dust off the sheets and revolutionizing it for a 21st century audience. BBC Music Magazine praised the group based in Cleveland, Ohio, saying they “forge a vibrant, life-affirming approach to early music” and create a “seductive vision of musical authenticity,” two commendations the group surpassed last night. Throughout the two-hour long masterclass, Jeannette Sorrell – the founder, musical director and harpsichordist of the orchestra – took time between suites to fill the crowd in on the backstory and aura behind each piece. Sorrell gave spirited descriptions of what Vivaldi was picturing when sculpting what would become his most famous work, from the warbling of European songbirds played by the high strings, to the thunder of late fall, rung out by the cellos and bass. It was invigorating.  

The crowd was in awe throughout, culminating in two lengthy standing ovations. “I thought it was a spectacular performance,” Matthew Gallup of Willimantic said. “It was really fascinating to learn about the sounds that go into it and the story behind the music, which I never knew. I’ve been listening to this concerto since I was a kid and I’ve always loved it, so it’s really nice to get the backstory and know what it’s about.”  

When asked if any of the seasonal suites was his favorite, Gallup chose to live in the present. “I’ve always loved fall,” Gallup said. “The thunderstorm was really fantastic.”  

Although the crowd was largely adults travelling in to see the performance, there were a surprising number of students who took advantage of this opportunity right in their backyard. Some connected the concert to their own UConn musical education.  

“We’re lucky to have a vibrant early music program at the university already,” John Spencer, a graduate student in education said. “This performance really brought out a lot of the details and illuminated things about Vivaldi’s composition very clearly that I did not know. It was super cool for someone as a student of early music to see one of the world-famous groups actually perform.” 

“Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’ is actually one of my favorites. I know, it’s so cliché, but that’s why this was so wonderful, because it took something that some see as cliché and it turned it into something very beautiful,” seventh-semester music and political science major Kayla Gitlin said. “We got a deeper understanding of it, and the orchestra spelling out their interpretation of each movement was special.”  

Midterm season has been hitting the UConn community hard, and the orchestra seemed to tune into that, no pun intended.  

“Our mission here tonight is to take you through a certain set of emotional moods,” Sorrell told the audience near the beginning of the show. “If at the end we send you out feeling better than when you arrived, we will have done a good night’s work.”  

The smiles on the faces leaving the theater proved their overwhelming success.  

Daniel Cohn is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at daniel.cohn@uconn.edu.

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