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A Trip Through the Four Seasons

Below please find descriptions and sample programs for three different concert versions of “A Trip Through The Four Seasons”: the first, of classical piano music, the second of jazz improvisations, and the third a combination of both classical and jazz music.

The classical version

In this intriguing program, Michael Arnowitt guides us on a voyage through the calendar year, starting with pieces of music about spring, proceeding through compositions about summer, autumn, and winter, and completing the circle by ending the program where it began, with music about spring.

Through the centuries, many composers have thoughtfully gone beyond the stereotypes we have of each season. Spring is a time of optimism, but it can also be a time of mystery as we witness the blossoming of ephemeral life. Summertime is not just beaches and fun, but can also be the loneliest time of the year. The bitter-sweet autumn seems to universally cause us to both reflect back upon the spring gone by and at the same time fear the austere winter to come. Winter is perhaps the most picturesque time of year, a time when Nature rules: some humans solemnly observe this power, others go out sledding and live it up.

The program contains music such as The May Night by Johannes Brahms, Heitor Villa-Lobos’ Summer Idyll, Gyorgy Ligeti’s Automne à Varsovie (Autumn in Warsaw), Claude Debussy’s La neige danse (The snow is dancing), Franz Liszt’s Chasse-neige, where whirls of snow cover a mysterious landscape, and music from Tchaikovsky’s The Seasons, where the composer wrote one piece for each month of the year.

Michael Arnowitt will also perform music he has transcribed for piano from the orchestral literature: Mahler’s The Lonely One In Autumn, Copland’s Appalachian Spring, the opening section of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, and a summer storm scene from Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons.

Sample program

William ByrdSellinger’s Rownde, from My Ladye Nevells Booke of Virginal Music
Johannes BrahmsLerchengesang (Song of the Larks), op. 70 no. 2
Igor StravinskyOpening scenes from Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring)

AnonymousSumer is icumen in (c. 1310)
Antonio Vivaldi1st movement from L’Estate, from Le Quattro Stagioni

    (Summer, from The Four Seasons)
Johannes BrahmsSommerfäden (Gossamer), op. 72 no. 2
Johannes BrahmsSommerabend (Summer Evening), op. 85 no. 1
Heitor Villa-LobosIdilio Na Rêde (Summer Idyll), op. 97 no. 1 from Suite Floral
Felix MendelssohnSleeping Music, from A Midsummer Night’s Dream

intermission

Edward MacDowellIn Autumn, op. 51 no. 4 from Woodland Sketches
Claude DebussyFeuilles mortes (Dead leaves), no. 2 from Preludes, Book 2
Gustav MahlerThe Lonely One In Autumn, from Das Lied von der Erde

    (The Song of the Earth)

Claude DebussyLa neige danse (The snow is dancing), from Children’s Corner
Robert SchumannWinterszeit II (Wintertime), from 43 Clavierstücke für die Jugend

    (43 Piano Pieces for the Young)
Pyotr Il’yich TchaikovskyJanuary - By the fireside, from Les saisons (The seasons), op. 37b
Frederic ChopinEtude op. 25 no. 11 “Winter Wind”

Aaron CoplandAppalachian Spring

The Brahms, Stravinsky, Vivaldi, Mendelssohn, Mahler, and Copland selections were transcribed for piano by Michael Arnowitt.


The jazz version

A variety of jazz tunes refer to the seasons, even personifying them as if Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter were living, animate actors touching us directly and granting us joy or sorrow. For many jazz writers, the progression of the seasons is also a metaphor for the course of a love relationship, and several of the tunes on this program creatively refer to more than one season, calling forth a strong sentiment of reminiscence and longing.

Michael Arnowitt’s jazz program traversing the seasons showcases tunes from great jazz artists past and present, ranging from Richard Rodgers, Irving Berlin, and Hoagy Carmichael to Clifford Brown, Horace Silver, Dave Holland, and Stevie Wonder. Novel tunes on the program include Californian Billy Childs’ “His April Touch” based on a poem by e.e. cummings, and Michael’s own ingenious slow Latin jazz version of the opening of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring.

Sample program

Song titleOriginal composer - lyricist(s)
1st set
I’ll Remember AprilGene DePaul - Patricia Johnston & Don Raye
Spring Can Really Hang You Up The MostThomas Wolf - Frances Landesman
May DanceDave Holland
Adoration of the Earth (from the Rite of Spring)Igor Stravinsky/Michael Arnowitt
Memphis in JuneHoagy Carmichael - Paul Francis Webster
SummertimeGeorge Gershwin - DuBose Heyward
Summer SambaMarcos Valle - Paulo SÚrgio Valle
The Summer KnowsMichel Legrand - Marilyn and Alan Bergman
Summer In Central ParkHorace Silver

2nd set
Fall’s AliveFred Haas
Autumn NocturneJosef Myrow - Kim Gannon
Early AutumnRalph Burns and Woody Herman - Johnny Mercer
Autumn LeavesJoseph Kosma - Jacques Prévert/Johnny Mercer
Autumn In New YorkVernon Duke
Snowy Mountain BluesJames P. Johnson
Winter MoonHoagy Carmichael and Harold Adamson
I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me WarmIrving Berlin
Where Were YouStevie Wonder
His April Touch (based on a poem by e.e. cummings)Billy Childs
Spring Is HereRichard Rodgers - Lorenz Hart
Joy SpringClifford Brown

The classical and jazz version

In this intriguing program, Michael Arnowitt guides us on a voyage through the calendar year, starting with pieces of music about spring, proceeding through compositions about summer, autumn, and winter, and completing the circle by ending the program where it began, with music about spring.

Through the centuries, many composers have thoughtfully gone beyond the stereotypes we have of each season. Spring is a time of optimism, but it can also be a time of mystery as we witness the blossoming of ephemeral life. Summertime is not just beaches and fun, but can also be the loneliest time of the year. The bitter-sweet autumn seems to universally cause us to both reflect back upon the spring gone by and at the same time fear the austere winter to come. Winter is perhaps the most picturesque time of year, a time when Nature rules: some humans solemnly observe this power, others go out sledding and live it up.

The program contains music such as a section from Felix Mendelssohn’s music for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Johannes Brahms’ Song of the Larks, Claude Debussy’s The Snow is Dancing, Edward MacDowell’s In Autumn, and Frederic Chopin’s “Winter Wind.”

Some of the featured pieces on the program is music Michael Arnowitt has transcribed for piano from the orchestral literature: Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring, the opening section of Igot Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, and a summer scene from Antonio Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons which depicts a cuckoo, a turtle-dove, a gold-finch, a shepherd, and a gathering storm.

Michael Arnowitt’s program also includes a sampling of his improvisations on jazz compositions about the seasons. The lyrics of these tunes often personify the seasons, as if Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter were living, animate actors touching us directly and granting us joy or sorrow. For many jazz writers, the progression of the seasons is also a metaphor for the course of a love relationship, and several of the tunes on this program creatively refer to more than one season, calling forth a strong sentiment of reminiscence and longing.

Some of jazz’s greatest composers both past and present are showcased on this program. Tunes range from standards such as Richard Rodgers’ Spring Is Here and Lou Kosma’s Autumn Leaves, to bop musicians Clifford Brown’s Joy Spring and Horace Silver’s Summer In Central Park, and music of today: bassist Dave Holland’s May Dance and pianist Billy Childs’ fascinating His April Touch, based on a poem by e.e. cummings.

Sample program

Clifford BrownJoy Spring
Richard Rodgers - Lorenz HartSpring Is Here
Dave HollandMay Dance

Johannes BrahmsLerchengesang (Song of the Larks), op. 70 no. 2
Igor StravinskyOpening scenes from Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring)
Antonio Vivaldi1st movement from L’Estate, from Le Quattro Stagioni

    (Summer, from The Four Seasons)
Felix MendelssohnSleeping Music, from A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Horace SilverSummer In Central Park
Joseph Kosma - Jacques
   Prévert/Johnny Mercer
Autumn Leaves


intermission

Edward MacDowellIn Autumn, op. 51 no. 4 from Woodland Sketches
Claude DebussyFeuilles mortes (Dead leaves), no. 2 from Preludes, Book 2

Vernon DukeAutumn In New York

Claude DebussyLa neige danse (The snow is dancing), from Children’s Corner
Robert SchumannWinterszeit II (Wintertime), from 43 Clavierstücke für die Jugend

    (43 Piano Pieces for the Young)
Frederic ChopinEtude op. 25 no. 11 “Winter Wind”

Billy ChildsHis April Touch (based on a poem by e.e. cummings)

Aaron CoplandAppalachian Spring

The Stravinsky, Vivaldi, Mendelssohn, and Copland were arranged for piano by Michael Arnowitt.




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