There were thunder and lightning, buzzing gnats, cuckoos cuckooing and a brief hailstorm at the Terrace Theater Saturday afternoon. No, the roof hadn't blown off the Kennedy Center, exposing the audience to the elements. Instead, violinist Daniel Heifetz and the six-strong Maryland Chamber Ensemble depicted these and other natural phenomena in a stirring account of Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons" before a full house of adults and children, whose comportment was worthy of the song titled "Ain't Misbehavin'."
The concert had plenty of appeal for young and old alike. Emcee Heifetz gave an informal seminar on one of classical music's most recognizable works, playing snippets from each Season to clue listeners in to exactly what image Vivaldi had in mind. The tipsy Autumn peasant dances, waveringly played by Heifetz, and the goatherd's barking dog of Spring, aggressively scraped by violist Sarah Wetherbee, brought laughs taken out of context but added color when performed in their respective sections. Heifetz capped each of his prefatory remarks with a reading of the poetry that inspired Vivaldi to paint his musical pictures.
A relaxed environment, informative remarks and a reduced "orchestra" that translated so-so poetry into lovely music made one appreciate this warhorse anew. And it doubtlessly pulled a group of newcomers into the classical music stable as well.