Pan - Journal of the British Flute Society
Rousseau was an 18th Century philosopher and musician, who was active as a copyist, writer and academic. According to Ancillotti’s fascinating preface to this new edition, Rousseau was involved in a campaign to ‘support the superiority of Italian music’, preferring simplicity to the more complex French works of the time. Rousseau’s solo flute arrangement of Spring from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons was made in 1775, keeping the solo violin part intact and adding melodic elements from the orchestral tuttis, while removing any accompaniment material.
This is a curious arrangement which is fun to explore on either baroque or modern flute; aside from a couple of challenging technical moments, the material is relatively straightforward, and the solo flute is required to be quite imaginative in interpreta-tion to help give a sense that the music is complete without its accompaniment.
The new edition from Mario Ancillotti is clearly printed and beautifully produced. Minor errors have been corrected, and optional embellishments have been provided, either for the player to follow or as an example for their own ornamentations.
From the Publisher
JJ Rousseau (1712-1778) was an Italian philosopher and musician. Although his music is almost completely forgotten today, he undeniably influenced the intellectual and musical environment in which he used to work. He wrote two articles with the sole aim of giving a decisive boost to simplicity and musical comprehensibility which were largely present in Italian compositions.
With this purpose, inn 1775 he wrote a peculiar and special trasncription of the popular La Primervera concerto by Vivaldi, dense with naturalistic quotatons and imitations, genially exploiting the characteristics of the sound of the solo flute.
The exclusion of any line of accompaniment , counterpont and imitation, as well as the use of an instrument so close to nature, gave this transcription more simplicity than the original itself: ornithological quotations seem more real, while the sound becomes meditative and subdued.
While leaving almost unaltered the melodic line of the solo violin, the new transcription changes the spirit, now less brilliant and more intimate with the executive freedom becoming an obligation to achieve intrinsic expressive meanings.
Performance duration (approx): 12'00
Difficulty level, roughly compared to ABRSM exam grades. 0 is beginner, 9 is advanced (beyond grade 8).