“4” is a documentary
film that marks seasonal change around the world. At its heart
is Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons. With speech, even voice-overs,
covering the start of the music, interpolated folk and lighter
music, we can infer that “4” was a kind of seasonal travelogue
illuminated by the local musics of the visited countries.
And at the centre
of the soundtrack, naturally, is Vivaldi though true to the rationale
of the film each of the seasons is performed by a different group.
Spring is in the hands of Sayaka Shoji and the Kioi Sinfonietta
Tokyo. It’s a pleasing enough reading, rather subdued and not
especially pictorial – nor is it especially expressive though
the solo line is romantically orientated in tone projection and
ethos. Summer falls to Nikki Vasilakis and Friends – all the friends
in her band are noted in the booklet by the way as are those in
all the chamber orchestras. This live performance is very juicily
phrased by Vasilakis. Autumn sees Cho-Liang Lin take the violinistic
reins accompanied by the ensemble called Sejong. As one might
anticipate this is an aristocratic reading, typically refined,
and just occasionally stolid. Finally Pekka Kuusisto and Friends
do the honours for Winter. This is the most visceral and interventionist
of the four performances – the baroque guitar is strongly audible
in the slow movement though there’s also a strange little slither
along the way that attests to the liveness of these performances.
Between these four,
in seasonal order, we have readings and other musical performances.
Without the filmic context these are disconcertingly brief – thirty
seconds or so typically. My Home Waragadam derives from
Australia’s Torres Strait; indeed the Australian Vasilakis prefaces
her own performance with a voice over about crops and drought.
Those intrigued by the conjunction of the names Cho-Liang Lin,
Yefim Bronfman and Arnold Steinhardt in the talking segment “A
New York Autumn” should be advised that it’s all over inside forty
seconds, though not before someone has called out cheerily “ Ah
Professore!” in suitably mocking tones. There’s a jazz band performance
from The Blue Vipers of Brooklyn to reinforce the NY feel.
in good form in his brief contributions, essaying first a folk
tune, then a more Grappelli influenced one. Rightly he points
to the confluence of celebration, alcohol and more alcohol in
his own Winter festivities.
The soundtrack captures
the four featured fiddle players and the other leading contributors
- sometimes briefly, it’s true. The booklet is youthful and
attractive and has full discographical information as to personnel
- which not all such booklets do, by any means.