Perfectly seasoned

The Seasons are brought delightfully to life by Sir Colin Davis.

Composer: Haydn

Repertoire: The Seasons

Artists: Miah Persson, Jeremy Ovenden, Andrew Foster-Williams, London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus/Sir Colin Davis
Rating: 5/5

Genre: Vocal

Label: LSO Live LSO 0708

The Music: Haydn was 69 when he completed The Seasons, an idealised portrait of peasant life in the vineyards of eastern Austria. The composer noted that the oratorio, a work of unflagging vitality and captivating variety, ‘has finished me off.’ 

The Performance: From cheeky surface details to the underlying sense of optimism, Sir Colin Davis is alive to every nuance of Haydn’s late masterpiece. The conductor’s lightness of touch allows the music to flow like quicksilver, albeit without undermining the work’s long-range architecture. His enthusiasm for the score and stirring energy inspire one of those rare performances in which everybody plays a decisive part: the chorus has a blast in Autumn’s hunting and drinking choruses, for example, while the LSO’s strings generate tonal warmth and rhythmic incision throughout. The soloists are also on beguiling form.

The Verdict: Sir Colin, revelling in his glorious Indian summer with the LSO, points heavenwards in this visionary reading of Haydn’s late masterpiece.