Album: Howard Goodall The Seasons (EMI Classics)

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The Independent Culture

While not wishing to criticise any modern composer savvy enough to secure a commission, there are obvious potential problems when the piper playing the tune is an ITV series fronted by Alan Titchmarsh, as with The Seasons.

Then there's the additional hurdle of comparisons with Vivaldi et al, which Goodall cleverly circumvents by opening with Autumn and working through to Spring, writing each section contemporaneous with the season in question. But the potential pitfalls – the televisual priorities, the pallid palette of strings and cello used for the entire suite – conspire to capsize the piece. Strangly, given his method, it's almost impossible, listening "blind", to tell the difference between the seasons being depicted, in which sense it is a failure.

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