This is a live recording made in Nuremberg of an English Oratorio by John Christopher Smith, who with his parents followed Handel to London when he was eight years old. The boy became a pupil of the great man, a talented viola player and teacher and eventually a composer and friendly rival of Handel himself. The Seasons was written a year before Messiah, and over sixty years before Haydn's Oratorio with the same name and it's libretto is taken from Hymn on the Seasons by the Scottish poet James Thomson. The music is fascinating and colourful, naturally owing much to Handel, but also looking forward to Haydn and the later Enlightenment and showing what a civilised composer Smith was in his own right. For me, the second half of the Oratorio comprising Autumn and Winter has the most inspired music and the most effective performance in this recording. The soloists are led by Emma Kirkby, still amazingly flexible of voice at the age of 63. Her brilliant duetting with counter tenor Tim Mead in "The Thunder Rolls"(Cd2 Track 13) is worth the price of the CDs alone. The tenor is rather throaty for my taste and the bass is more than adequate. The period instrument La Banda play with vitality, though sometimes, especially in the first two parts, there is some rather sour string tone. The Festival Choir Franconia are rather woolly sounding in places, and their English diction is not always clear. None of these reservations should prevent anyone enjoying this unjustly neglected work by a fine composer who has lived in the shadow of Handel for so long.