What is known as a cover in pop music -- a composer and/or performer making a song his or her own -- is ancient history in classical music. In medieval and Renaissance times, the chant tune on which masses were built was commonly a cover of a standard issue cantus firmus. In the Baroque, Bach rewrote Vivaldi. Later Mozart rewrote Handel. Mendelssohn did it to Bach, as Liszt did to Mozart and many others. Mahler “improved” Beethoven; Stravinsky redid Pergolesi; Schoenberg orchestrated Brahms, likewise Ravel with Mussorgsky. Even Cage covered the Beatles, and
All of which means that the German composer Max Richter's recomposing Vivaldi's "Four Seasons," throwing out a good deal of Vivaldi and taming what is left with electronica drones, loops and whatnot, is only the latest in a long line of covered classical wagons. Still, this latest "Four Seasons" has gotten a lot of attention thanks to a heavily promoted bestselling CD on Deutsche Grammophon by the versatile violinist Daniel Hope, who premiered the piece in London two years ago.