Baroque Masterpieces Reinterpreted: Vivaldi, Bach, Handel

Great masterpieces always invite exciting reinterpretations. This course will explore several such reinterpretations focusing on Vivaldi’s immortal ‘Four Seasons’ performed by Norwegian violinist Henning Kraggerud and interspersed with several of his own compositions, Bach’s St Matthew Passion on DVD directed by Simon Rattle and Peter Sellars – a performance which had the critics raving – and a DVD performance of Handel’s superb opera ‘Agrippina’ written for Venice, plus other vocal/instrumental works.


  • Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’ I: Spring, Summer, Autumn, interspersed with Kraggerud’s ‘Preghiera’, Postlude from ‘Equinox’ and ‘Magnus in Memoriam’
  • Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’ II: Winter, and Kraggerud’s ‘Victimae Paschali’; Vivaldi’s ‘Stabat Mater’, ‘Credo’ and other liturgical works
  • Bach’s ‘St Matthew Passion’ – Introduction, and Part I
  • Bach’s ‘St Matthew Passion’ – Part II
  • Bach: instrumental concertos – selections from the Brandenburg concertos and other works
  • Handel’s opera ‘Agrippina’ I – opera in Venice in the early 18th century
  • Handel’s opera ‘Agrippina’ II
  • Handel’s Agrippina – conclusion, and selections from his Concerti Grossi and organ concertos

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Appreciate the opportunities for reinterpreting these masterpieces within the stylistic conventions appropriate to performing Baroque music.
  2. Assess the success of these various performances – their strengths and any weaknesses.
  3. Distinguish the individual stylistic characteristics of each composer and the various genres chosen.
  4. Evaluate these performances in the light of the composers' original intentions with regard to performance and social context.