5 Nov 2020

MENDELSSOHN: A Midsummer Night's Dream, Suite

From Music Alive, 8:02 pm on 5 November 2020

The young Mendelssohn's magical depiction of fairies, donkeys and weddings.

Oberon, Titania and Puck with Fairies Dancing by William Blake, c. 1786

Oberon, Titania and Puck with Fairies Dancing by William Blake, c. 1786 Photo: Public Domain

Mendelssohn was only 17 when he wrote the Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This was in 1826, and he wrote it, mostly in father’s huge garden, as a standalone concert overture, not connected to any performance of Shakespeare’s play.

It quickly became his first, and one of his best, successes.

16 years later, the King of Prussia commissioned Mendelssohn to add to the Overture with a more extensive set of incidental music to accompany a production of the play.

He marvellously evokes representations of the fairies, the braying of Bottom when he’s been ‘translated’ into an ass, and the grandeur of the wedding of Theseus and Hippolyta in the famous Wedding March.

The APO plays five movements from the complete score: Overture – Scherzo – Intermezzo – Nocturne – Wedding March.

Recorded by RNZ Concert, Auckland Town Hall, 5 November 2020
Producer: Adrian Hollay; Engineer: Rangi Powick

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