Tonight I've made plans to invite a priest over for dinner. Considering I'm not Catholic (should that be a small 'c'?), I am wondering what Father Vivaldi will make of eating meat tonight. Or is that on Fridays? Well, it might not be any consequence, then. I do consider myself lucky, being able to dine with someone who is bound to be a great conversationalist. I plan on making a lot of Italian favorites, such as spaghetti, veal marsala, etc., and wonder what he might think of my cooking. Typically guests who come over are very pleased with my cooking. Still interesting, but less important than my skills as a chef, I hope to spend a few minutes in the listening room spinning some tracks (I was about to say discs, but we're all digital now, so, that wouldn't be entirely true). I plan on focusing on Don Vivaldi's most famous concertos, his so-called "Quattro Stagioni" to gather his opinion. What better critic, right, might we find? I picture the conversation going something like this... * Mr. Vivaldi, I bet that meal brought back some good memories of being back in Venice. Do they cook there as well as I do? * Sir, your food was fine, but there was too much of it. To be honest, it was all too salty and sweet. Memories? No... we don't eat food like that in Venice. * What? Certainly... I mean, it was all Italian... go to any Italian restaurant, and I swear, you'll find all those things, especially the dessert, tiramisù... * It was all very interesting. What is this amazing light box you have here? * Light box? Oh, the computer... * Computer? * Yes... we don't have time to explain all of this. But I wanted to play for you some music. * That is a musical instrument? * Not precisely. But I can play-back musical performances. Um... like... well... * Music is going to come out of that little slab of metal and light? * Well, no... yes, but.. you will hear it from over there... from those things standing in the middle of the floor. * Ok... I am getting indigestion, so hurry up. * I'm sorry. So, I cue up some of my favorite performances of the Four Seasons, and ask Don Vivaldi to tell me... "Sir, tell me which one of these performances sounds MOST LIKE one you might hear in Venice... oh, and why it sounds like that." * There are no musicians here. * Oh, well... let's give it a go. I pull up tracks. He doesn't say a word, but is instead intrigued by the sound coming forth. * That's my winter concerto! But how does that music come forth? * Well, Mr. Vivaldi, we have technology now... tools... to make a RECORDING of a musical performance. It's like making a copy of your manuscripts, but we can copy sound, not just ink on paper. * Amazing... * Save your comments until you see television. Shall we listen to another? * Sure! I play some more. * Wait... this one is too way too fast... and that one, why does the volume keep changing, up and down... and why in that one... do they slow down at the end? * Ah, this is great... this is the stuff I need. * Why? Why does my opinion count? * You are the composer... * I'd be more interested in what you think of my playing... I'm a little rusty, but I still think I could do a good job... Do you have a violin? * No. [Silence.] * Mr. Vivaldi, in our time... it's important for many folks to know what the music you and your generation sounded like. What tempos you followed, what the orchestra sounded like, how many people made up the orchestra, and what, even, your "ideal" sound might have been when writing your works. * Ah... so you want to go back in time? * Yes, in a matter of speaking. * And what if you found you didn't like what you heard back then? I mean, you now know you can only move people forward, and not backward... so... what if I told you what I heard here today was just tons better than what my seasons sounded like, say, around 1730? * Did you just say "tons better"? * I did. I am not sure what it means. But I think you do. * Ok... you're right, I can't go back in time. And you're telling me this sounded better than it did in your own time? * Yes. * But... how? and why? * For one, everything is well in-tune. With my girls, we never had such good intonation. * I see... * And the harpsichord, it's so clear and loud... it's not buried under the orchestra. * That's mixing for you. * Mixing? Like what they do to beverages in Harry's Bar? * You have been doing a lot of travelling, I gather. * I get around. * As does your music. The so-called "Quattro Stagioni" are well known across the world. * You don't say? * I do... but back to the sound. Did you guys use all this "sul ponticello" stuff with, let's say, "Winter"? * I don't recall writing that stuff into the score... * Right... * [Vivaldi smiles.] I do love it though... I wish I had thought of that. * And this? * A bit hurried. I hear they played my music like that with Pisendel in Dresden. * Really? * Yeah... and when the French play, it's at a lower scale... they play slower, but try decorating everything with more trills and mordents. * What do you think about that? * It's a performer's world. I don't mind it; I find all the variations interesting. Some I wouldn't dare do, because the Italian style is best. But you have to dare to be different to be noticed and appreciated. * Interesting, fascinating actually. I wanted to ask... * Wait! Who is this performing? * An Italian, Fabio Biondi. * When did he die? * Die?! * Oh, he is still living? * Yes... the recording is only 5 years old. * Oh... well, I like this... he's got a very tasteful sound... more French, but with Italian tempi... * Really? * I think so. * I've got an Englishman you should hear... a Mr. Kennedy... * Wow... the English like my music? Figures they haven't come up with their own in several hundred years... [After listening] I imagine his hair stands on end... does he look rough? * At times, actually, yes. * See, it's about personality. Listen... this music listening is great. But I like to see my musicians... call me back when you've invented that, would you? I think it's time for me to leave... that cheesy dessert is coming up something awful... * Ok, I do appreciate your visit... take a Tagemet on your way out. * A what? * Trust me.