Magazine article Gramophone

JC Smith: The Seasons

Magazine article Gramophone

JC Smith: The Seasons

Article excerpt

JC Smith

The Seasons

Emma Kirkby sop Tim Mead counterten Hans Jorg Mammel ten Markus Simon bass Musica Franconia Festival Choir; La Banda / Wolfgang Riedelbauch

Christophorus [M] [2] CHR77382 (93' * DDD)

Ah yes: John Christopher Smith, geboren Johann Christoph Schmidt, whom Handel invited to London in 1716 to look after his business affairs. But no: this is John Christopher Smith (1712-95), to whom Handel dictated music after he had gone blind, and who helped keep the flame burning after the composer's death. Smith was the son of Smith: they must have caused their bank manager some confusion.

The younger Smith was a composer in his own right, though not a very fortunate one. Some of his works remained unperformed in his lifetime, some have been lost; of those that survive, some are incomplete. The Seasons was composed in 1740. The text comes from James Thomson's poem, published in its complete form only 10 years earlier; but rather than drawing on the four parts that later formed the basis of Haydn's oratorio, Smith set the concluding 'Hymn', where Nature is enjoined to praise the Creator. Smith made several changes to Thomson's verse and omitted the end, perhaps not relishing the challenge of finding music for 'Come, then, expressive Silence, muse His praise! …

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