Janine Jansen – Vivaldi: The Four Seasons

JanineIf you don’t know Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons” by name, you’ll know it by sound. If you close your eyes and think of classical music played by a shit ton of violins, that’s the one that comes to mind. I know the word “classic” can be thrown around a lot. Some people even say that a Bon Jovi song is a classic. Well, they’re wrong. They couldn’t be more wrong. No matter what you may think “The Four Seasons” will outlast “Slippery When Wet” by a large margin. It was there long before you were alive and it’s going to survive long after you’re dead. Unless, that is, you’re a vampire. And if that’s the case please contact me because I have some questions for you. 

So, each year there will be some other person who releases their version of this. It’s like when “Celebration” by Kool and the Gang is played at a wedding. It’s something that’s going to happen. You know it. I know it. It’s just going to happen. It’s expected. And now we’re all going to watch as a half-drunk middle-aged man stumbles onto the dancefloor, with his shirt half untucked, and he’s going to perform a dance I can only describe as moving your arms in a slow rotation to a rhythm used exclusively in the 8th circle of hell. And we will all stand and watch. It’s something we must do. It’s part of being human. Deal with it. 

Now, because there are so many releases of this piece, there’s a debate on who performs it best. These discussions are generally cannon fodder used at high-class parties. Some asshole will bring up the subject just to measure how classy someone else is and also to show off how big their fat inbred wine drenched brain is. Names like: Nigel Kennedy, Gidon Kremer, Fabio Bondi, Gil Shaham will be thrown out like the inorganic food at these parties (just a warning: if there’s punch, don’t drink it, as anyone who has ever worked in the service industry can tell you. Two words: Fight Club). But I genuinely like classic music. It’s one of my jams. Some days nothing else works. So, I decided to listen to every single “Four Seasons” release I could get my grubby little hands on. This is how that shit went down. 

After the first four recordings I got really, really bored with the piece. But I’m one tenacious motherfucker, so I kept on going. As soon as Janine’s version came on I was floored. It was played as if I had never heard the song before. You can hear the sheer determination used to play these pieces. That bow flies across her strings like Usain Bolt after Taco Tuesday. It’s not technically perfect. It could be done sharper. But I hate when it’s done sharper. When it’s too perfect all humanity is drained from the piece. It’s unbelievably clear that these players love this piece. They put every single ounce of themselves into it. This was recorded a while ago. And Janine has made many recordings since. But there is something to the youth and fire of her playing here that I prefer to any other recording. Even if you aren’t a classical person, if you throw this shit on with some nice headphones and listen from start to finish, you’ll be a different person by the end. Each time I finish listening to this I leave with a fresh determination. I vow to do whatever it is I’m doing to the fullest passion and dedication that I can muster. Because we’re only here for so long. Now, if this wasn’t the message Vivaldi was trying to show when he wrote this piece, oh so long ago, then I don’t know what it is. That’s why I’ll stand on top of any classy table at a party (after pissing in the punch of course) smash a wine glass to the floor, and shout to the rooftops that Janine does it best.



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