Last night we heard the Vivaldi 'Four Seasons' performed in the Sainte-Chapelle. As so often in life, the first step to a joyous transcendant experience was overcoming my preconceptions against it. Even though we already had tickets to the concert, I was tempted not to go. My back was giving me a hard time and I had heard the Four Season so often it was sure to be a tired chestnut. But I went anyway so as not to disappoint Rita.
It proved an outstanding experience. The Sainte-Chapelle was the private family chapel of the French kings. While not exactly small, it is intimate compared to Notre Dame. It was built for Louis IX, who became Saint Louis, and was completed in 1248, a brief but memorable 764 years ago. It is arguably the loveliest space in Christendom.
Not quite 500 years after the Sainte-Chapelle was built, Antonio Vivaldi composed 'Le Quattro Stagione' - 'The Four Seasons'. It is a charming piece of music when played on an excellent stereo. But when played live on violins, cello, and harpsichord, it is a masterpiece of both composition and performance. The first violin, David Braccini, was masterful and brilliant. Remember his name. I predict you will hear it again.
The Sainte-Chapelle is a triumph of 13th Century Western Civilization. 'The Four Seasons' is a triumph of 18th Century Western Civilization. The fact that 600 closely-packed common people attended the concert, not just the king and his family, is a democratic triumph of 21st Century Western Civilization.