Swedish Chamber Orchestra
Thomas Dausgaard, conductor
November 2015
BBIS

 

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Mendelssohn – A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Following a series of acclaimed recordings of 19th-century music including complete cycles of the symphonies by Schubert and Schumann, Thomas Dausgaard and his Swedish Chamber Orchestra turn to Felix Mendelssohn. The team’s latest offering unites three of the composer’s four celebrated concert overtures, written between 1826 and 1835 and setting new standards for this emerging genre. The earliest of the three – A Midsummer Night’s Dream – was composed by Mendelssohn at just seventeen, and his sister Fanny later remarked how Shakespeare’s play had been a constant presence at their home, and how ‘at various ages we had read all the different roles, from Peaseblossom to Hermia and Helena…’ The overture immediately became one of Mendelssohn’s signature pieces, and seventeen years later he returned to it, composing additional incidental music for a stage production of the play. Written for soloists, women’s choir and orchestra, the complete Midsummer Night score is included here. The disc opens with the last of the four overtures to be composed, however: The Fair Melusine, which Mendelssohn wrote after having heard an opera based on the old French tale of the water spirit Mélusine and her sad fate. Actively disliking the opera, Mendelssohn was provoked into his own musical setting of the subject matter in the form of a concert overture. Water – and its depiction in music – also plays an important role in The Hebrides, the closing work on the present recording. Inspired by the poems by Ossian – which captured the imagination of an entire generation at the beginning of the Romantic era – Mendelssohn visited Scotland and the Hebrides in 1829, and already during this trip he sent a postcard to his family, with the overture’s famous opening written down in a four-part setting.

Reviews
“The handling of the dynamics and fine details of instrumentation reveal results that have hardly been seen before in this music” – Klassic.com
“Driven by its principal conductor Thomas Dausgaard, the Swedish Chamber Orchestra demonstrated not only an exemplary accuracy, but also a joyful energy.” – Crescendo Magazine
“To Mendelssohn Thomas Dausgaard brings the qualities that have distinguished his cycles of Beethoven, Schubert and Schumann, notably a spring in the step, especially on dotted rhythms that lift and sometimes iconoclastically swing into the next bar” – Gramophone Magazine
Tracklisting
  1. Ouverture zum Marchen von der schonen Melusine, Op. 32, MWV P12, “Die schone Melusine”
  2. Act I: Ouverture
  3. Act I: Scherzo
  4. Act II: Melodrama: He, Geist! Wo geht die Reise hin?
  5. Act II: Kommt! einen Ringel, einen Feensang! – Lied: Bunte Schlangen, zweigezungt
  6. Act II: Andante
  7. Act II: Intermezzo
  8. Act III: Allegro
  9. Act III: Notturno
  10. Act IV: Andante
  11. Act IV: Hochzeitsmarsch
  12. Act V: Allegro comodo – Marcia funebre
  13. Act V: Ein Tanz von Rupeln: Die Mitternacht zwolf mit ehrner Zunge
  14. Act V: Allegro vivace come I
  15. Act V: Finale
  16. The Hebrides in D Major, Op. 26, MWV P7, “Fingal’s Cave”