Would you like to enjoy a summer music festival about now? Yes, but it’s difficult, especially for us Americans. You can travel to France, however, for a taste of Les Arts Florissants.

I mean, you can click on a video: here.

LAF (don’t laugh) is the Baroque group founded by William Christie more than forty years ago—in 1979. Christie is an American, born in 1944, who has spent his career in France. He has a home in the Vendée and has constructed some excellent gardens. He and a handful of his musical charges have gotten together for some music-making in these gardens (or one of them).

See them in the video I have linked to.

There are eight musicians, with Maestro Christie presiding at the keyboard. The musicians are properly “distanced,” I suppose, and maskless.

Their little concert is beautifully shot, by the way—beautifully filmed—by John Blanch, of JBP Films. He gives us sweeping views of the region, and captures some nice smiles and other expressions on the musicians’ faces.

The program is Vivaldi: two of his concertos. The first is the one in D minor, RV 565, for two violins and cello (plus supporting cast); the second is the one in G major, RV 516, for two violins.

RV,” incidentally, stands for “Ryom-Verzeichnis.” “Ryom” is Peter Ryom, a Danish musicologist, and “Verzeichnis” means “catalogue” in German.

So, get to it, Mr. Critic: how is the playing? You may like it better than I do. I found it a bit pedestrian, a bit plodding—as the musicians scratched their way pleasantly through their Vivaldi. You will be in a more generous mood, I trust.

My crabbiness aside, I welcome this film as a token of civilization. A token of normality, even, for those of us who like summer music festivals, and music itself. The whole thing—the whole film—breathes civilization.

One more word before I go. Regular readers may know my quip about contemporary music—music written today. “They say that all Vivaldi concertos sound alike. If that is true, they at least have the excuse of having been written by the same person. What excuse does modern music, with its sameness, have?”


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