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Classical Notes

Pieces of Spring No. 2

Posted at 8:00 AM on May 3, 2007 by John Birge

Welcome May, and Classical Minnesota Public Radio's Pieces of Spring.

Every day, we'll play a springtime classic. Visit our online playlist to find each day's spring piece or, in the Twin Cities, listen to 99.5 every morning at 8. Enter the correct title here, and you have another chance to win fresh flowers delivered to your door for a year! Check back here every day to see if you got it right.

Yesterday's piece was "La Primavera" from Ottorino Respighi's "Botticelli Triptych."

Sandro Botticelli’s most recognizable work might be “The Birth of Venus,” but it wasn’t his only painting featuring the goddess of beauty and fertility. In “La Primavera,” one of three paintings by Botticelli which inspired Respighi’s tone poems, Venus and other figures from Greek mythology dance celebrate the arrival of Spring.

At a time when many composers were looking to the future and challenging the traditional musical world, Respighi found inspiration in the past. He studied Italian Renaissance and Baroque masters, especially in “La Primavera,” with its exuberant, dance-like tone that echoes Vivaldi’s “Spring” or Monteverdi’s madrigals. Respighi's musical palette includes modern instruments like celesta and piano, adding a sparkling lightness and warmth to the music.