Album: Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Haydn: Die Jahreszeiten (Sony Classical)

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The Independent Culture

The Seasons was Haydn's final oratorio, a secular equivalent of his sacred The Creation, albeit based on less-imposing source material than Paradise Lost.

Haydn's Seasons was rooted in childhood memories of rustic life, applied to the libretto of Gottfried van Swieten, whose corny suggestions – croaking frogs, chirping crickets – so irritated the composer. They didn't prevent him imposing his metaphorical system, in which the seasons represent the stages of human life, from the lightness of spring, to the arthritic winter with intimations of death – well evoked by Nikolaus Harnoncourt and the Arnold Schoenberg Choir.

Download this: "O Wie Lieblich Ist Der Anblick", "Dann Bricht Der Grosse Morgen An"