Although I love autumn and am thankful for the cooler weather, there is one reason why I don’t like October. In 2013, my beloved high school band teacher passed away a day before her birthday, so I’m always reminded of her passing and of her birthday. Around the anniversary of her passing, I thought of her a lot. I remembered our band classes and the times I’d volunteered and subbed for her. Inevitably, I began to think of music associated with those memories, and I had one particular song stuck in my head the past couple of weeks. I decided to feature this song for this month’s Symphonic Selections.
I’m surprised I hadn’t featured something by Antonio Vivaldi. Vivaldi’s known for the Le quattro stagioni (aka The Four Seasons), but I absolutely adore this double cello concerto, especially the first movement. I was introduced to this piece when my band teacher decided to have two of her cellists perform this for their spring concert. On the day she passed out the sheet music, she’d also played the recording by Yo-Yo Ma, and it was love at first sound. For the next eight months, I heard the two cellists and the string ensemble rehearse this many time, and I never tired of it. My band teacher encouraged this group of teens to play this piece, and they performed this beautifully on the night of the spring concert. They only performed the first movement, but that alone is very powerful, and it has a very demanding presence that sticks with you.
Here’s a recording of a teen group from California performing this piece. This one’s the whole concerto, and it’s a bit slower than the Yo-Yo Ma’s version above. Slower or not, these kids are amazing. Everything meshes well — from the cellist duet to the string ensemble that’s backing them up. Heck, just watch the two teen cellists’ hand movements and watch them fly! This video reminds me of the night my high school string ensemble performed this, and it makes me really miss my band teacher. I miss her a lot, but I have to thank her for introducing so many great classical pieces to me, including this one.
Are you familiar with this piece? What do you think of this song? Which do you prefer — the fast or slow version? Let me know in the comments!