On 31 August at the Hollywood Bowl Gemma New conducted David Matthews’ orchestration of Tchaikovsky’s The Seasons with the LA Philharmonic, in the first US performance of the 50-minute work. The Seasons comprises twelve short character pieces - a staple of the solo piano repertoire - that takes a scene from each month of the year as its subject. February depicts a lively carnival ahead of Lenten gloom; a solo violin sings the song of a skylark in March; four horns set off on an autumnal hunt in September; sleighbells tinkle in November’s Troika, before a Christmas waltz closes the set in December.

The Seasons was premiered by the Norddeutsche Rundfunk in 1991, conducted by Carl Davis, who passed away at the age of 86 in August this year. A longtime collaborator and colleague, Matthews paid tribute to Davis here.

Excerpts from the set have been performed by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, and the Hallé Orchestra. In 2016 Matthews arranged May (‘White Nights’) and October (‘Autumn Song’) for string orchestra, available as Two Pieces from ‘The Seasons’, premiered by Scottish Ensemble; the group performed the 7-minute pair of arrangements at the 2023 Cheltenham Music Festival alongside Anna Meredith’s Anno – another work that marks the passing of the year. 

2023 has seen Matthews’ 80th birthday marked by the BBC Philharmonic and Deal and Presteigne Festivals, amongst others. On 7 October the Little Missenden Festival celebrate the composer with a screening of Barrie Gavin’s new documentary A Composer’s Landscape, which debuted at the Presteigne Festival in August, followed by a discussion between Matthews and Thomas Hyde. Later the Carducci Quartet and Clare Hammond will perform Matthews’ String Quartet No.10, Piano Quintet, and Cap Griz-Nez for solo piano.