Vivaldi, Antonio. (1678–1741) [Facco, Giacomo. (1676-1753)] IL CIMENTO DELL' ARMONIA E DELL' INVENTIONE, CONCERTI A 4 E 5...OPERA OTTAVA...[Libro Primo], Secondo ["The Four Seasons"]
There is no surviving autograph source for Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons", one of the best-loved works in the concert repertoire and the present edition is thus the principal source for these four famous concertos. Important contemporary copies in Manchester, prepared in 1726, but under the composer's direction, help confirm that this Le Cène edition provides authentic versions of all twelve concertos. The Fuld copy of "Il Cimento" at the Pierpont Morgan lacks this soloist part for the Libro Primo actually containing the "Four Seasons," while only the Paris Conservatoire and Library of Congress copies include an engraved portrait by François Morellon La Cave, not found here. The Violino Principale part is of great rarity and we have traced only 2 copies ever having appeared on the market.
By 1725, when Vivaldi published his Opus 8 set, he may well have been the most famous musician in Europe, and the first four concertos of the set, named Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter, were already well known from circulating manuscript copies. Part of their appeal would doubtless have been their extra-musical content. Vivaldi was hardly the first composer to depict nature and human activities in instrumental music, but no one had before conjured the physical world quite so vividly and concisely with violins. He wrote a sonnet for each concerto explaining what was going on, intended not only as description, but as instruction for performance: the sonnet verses are printed not only as prefaces to each concerto, but also in all the instrumental parts, in the midst of tempo markings and performance directions.