Continuing his award-winning cycle of works by Felix Mendelssohn, Sir John Eliot Gardiner leads the LSO, his Monteverdi Choir and three talented young actors from the Guildhall in a landmark performance of 'A Midsummer Night’s Dream', which was performed as part of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. To mark the celebrations, Gardiner produced a special version of the work featuring some cuts to the original movements that, in his words, "remove all of the music relating to the Mechanicals and thus focus on the world of the fairies and the human lovers". Mendelssohn, who adored Shakespeare’s writings, composed his concert overture based on 'A Midsummer Night’s Dream' in 1827 aged 17, after having read a German translation of the play. The overture was immediately acclaimed as a masterpiece and quickly became a popular favourite throughout Europe. Years later in 1843 he was asked by the King of Prussia to provide a score for an entire production: 14 short works based on themes and moods from the original overture, with a broadly romantic sound although classical in style and structure.
George Szell's Philips Concertgebouw legacy includes some distinguished recordings, with the scintillating Midsummer Night's Dream suite taking pride of place. Few if any rivals can match the ''Scherzo'' (not even Szell's later Cleveland recording is as buoyant or precise), while the Overture is extraordinarily well drilled and the ''Nocturne'', although cool, has a genuine sense of repose. The Schubert Rosamunde excerpts display all the drive and textural clarity that Szell habitually brought to, say, the Great C major Symphony…
Otto Klemperer was very much a man of the theatre. “Here, opera and drama were truly united,” he said of his time at Berlin’s Kroll Theatre, a progressive and influential force in the heady years of the Weimar Republic. He was also a man with a sharp sense of humour: this performance of Mendelssohn’s incidental music to Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream both glows with enchantment and sparkles with wit.
Respected American troupe Pacific Northwest Ballet take on equally revered choreographer George Balanchine's 1962 version of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'. Artistic director Francia Russell emulates Balanchine's intentions as closely as possible in this classic ballet combining Shakespeare's much-loved tale of love and magic, married to Felix Mendelssohn's energetic score.