Notes & Reviews:
Already 60 years before Joseph Haydn, the German composer John Christopher Smith wrote an oratorio about the seasons that was also based on the epic poem 'The Seasons' by the Scottish poet James Thomson. Smith was born in 1712 in Ansbach as Johann Christoph Schmidt and emigrated with his parents to London, for his father worked as a manager and copyist for George Frederic Handel. Young Smith received his first instruction from the master personally and later became Handel's closest working associate. He helped Handel with his composing and, when his mentor became blind, he directed performances of his oratorios. But Smith himself was also a recognized composer who was 'highly appreciated by many of the 'first heads' in the Kingdom', as the English music scholar Charles Burney reported. His oratorio about the seasons is an imaginative tone painting in a style which extends beyond the baroque, already introducing elements of the Empfindsamer Stil (Sensitive Style). In particular, Smith's colorful representations of nature - ranging from birdsong and the undulations of the forest to icy winter storms - are very successfully realized. They show that he was far more than just Handel's assistant.
American Record Guide, November/December 2014
A fascinating work, certainly, and I kept thinking of Wordsworth, with his near worship of nature, who was born two years before ill health forced Smith to abandon his musical career and 25 years before the composer died in 1795. I am somewhat surprised to read that Smith and Handel, at first pupil and master, were later competitors on the English musical scene. It is very well performed here. The notes include good information about the composer and his work, as well as texts and translations.
Recording information: St. Sebald, Nürnberg, Germany (07/14/2012-07/15/2012).
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Works DetailsSmith, John Christopher : The Seasons, oratorio for soloists, chorus & orchestra
- Conductor: Wolfgang Riedelbauch
- Ensemble: La Banda
- Notes: St. Sebald, Nürnberg, Germany (07/14/2012-07/15/2012)
- Running Time: 87 min. 2 sec.
- Period Time: Classical
- Form: Cantata/Oratorio