This special collection brings together Felix Mendelssohn’s concert overtures, a genre for which the composer was particularly famed. Among them is Ruy Blas; despite Mendelssohn’s initial lack of interest in his commission for this work, he later divulged that ‘the whole thing gave me more pleasure than much else I have undertaken’, and today the work is heralded by many as a dramatic masterpiece. Also featured is The Hebrides – inspired by the composer’s first visit to Britain in 1829 – and the C major Overture, also known as the ‘Trumpet’ overture and which received its name due to the impressive flourishes for this instrument that permeate the work. The Fair Melusine was written in direct response to the overture of an opera of the same name by Conradin Kreutzer, which Mendelssohn ‘disliked … exceedingly’, claiming that his own attempt would ‘have more substance’. Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage is an excellent example of Mendelssohn’s ability to compose for seascape, with the contrabassoon representing the rolling waves.
The collection is preceded by A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a work that began its life as a concert overture, receiving its first performance in the garden of the composer’s family’s Berlin house, with players and audience drawn from relatives and friends. Mendelssohn later expanded the work into incidental music to accompany Shakespeare’s play on which it is based, and it is now counted among the composer’s most popular works: a regular favourite in concert halls the world over. A wealth of performance talent is assembled for this release, with acclaimed conductors Walter Weller and Kurt Masur sharing the baton.
- Recorded in Glasgow and Leipzig, 1974.
- This release offers masterworks of Mendelssohn the romantic symphonist.
- The incidental music for Shakespeare’s play A Midsummer Night’s Dream (played here in the complete version, with vocalists) contain the most fairylike, ethereal and miraculous music Mendelssohn has ever written, the Scherzo is a wonder of lightness and elf-like mystery, whereas the Wedding March has become the archetypal March for accompanying bride and bridegroom into the church. The second disc contains popular overtures, among which the famous Fingal’s Cave (otherwise known as The Hebrides Overture) and the Meeresstille und Glückliche Fahrt.
- Excellent performances by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra/Walter Weller and the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig (founded by Mendelssohn himself!) conducted by Kurt Masur.
- Contains liner notes on the composer and works.