Mendelssohn: A Midsummer Night's Dream, Symphony No 4 / Abbado

Release Date: 6/29/2012
Label: Sony
Catalog Number: SONY62826
Conductor: Claudio Abbado
Number of Discs: 1

Physical Format:

CD
Low Stock
$17.99
Notes and Editorial Reviews
Abbado’s Mendelssohn is as fresh and vivacious as ever. The Italian Symphony positively crackles with energy, and the collaboration with Branagh passes with flying colors.

It’s good to be able to report that Abbado’s Mendelssohn is as fresh and vivacious as ever. His LSO recordings of the symphonies (on DG) were very fine, but this new Berlin account of the Italian Symphony – recorded live at the Berlin Philharmonic’s 1995 New Year’s Eve Concert – positively crackles with energy, especially in the whirlwind finale. The second movement’s procession is beguilingly phrased and Abbado even convinces me that the weak Minuet is worth its place in this otherwise utterly marvellous work. The performance of Mendelssohn’s equally delightful incidental music to A Midsummer Night’s Dream is taken from the same concert, though Kenneth Branagh’s narration was added later (he projects well and the acoustics are well matched, so the result feels perfectly natural). The extracts Branagh uses fit well with Mendelssohn’s music (of which we hear all the important numbers) and concentrate on the central tussle between Titania and Oberon and the latter’s confused conspiracy with Puck to untangle the love lives of the young Athenians. It’s a heroic attempt to capture some of the magic of the play, and Branagh passes with flying colours (though I’m not totally convinced by Puck as a leprechaun). A delightful disc, then, beautifully packaged – though, curiously, without programme notes.

Performance: 5 (out of 5), Sound: 5 (out of 5)

-- Stephen Maddock, BBC Music Magazine
Works on This Recording
1. Midsummer Night's Dream Overture, in E major Op. 21 by Felix Mendelssohn
Performer: Kenneth Branagh (Spoken Vocals)
Conductor: Claudio Abbado
Orchestra/Ensemble: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic
Written: 1826 ; Germany
2. Midsummer Night's Dream, Op. 61: Scherzo by Felix Mendelssohn
Performer: Kenneth Branagh (Spoken Vocals)
Conductor: Claudio Abbado
Period: Romantic
Written: 1842 ; Germany
3. Midsummer Night's Dream, Op. 61: How now spirit by Felix Mendelssohn
Performer: Sylvia McNair (Soprano), Kenneth Branagh (Spoken Vocals), Angelika Kirchschlager (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor: Claudio Abbado
Period: Romantic
Written: 1842 ; Germany
4. Midsummer Night's Dream, Op. 61: March of the Fairies by Felix Mendelssohn
Performer: Kenneth Branagh (Spoken Vocals)
Conductor: Claudio Abbado
Orchestra/Ensemble: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic
Written: 1842 ; Germany
5. Midsummer Night's Dream, Op. 61: Ye spotted snakes by Felix Mendelssohn
Performer: Kenneth Branagh (Spoken Vocals), Sylvia McNair (Soprano), Angelika Kirchschlager (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor: Claudio Abbado
Period: Romantic
Written: 1842 ; Germany
6. Midsummer Night's Dream, Op. 61: What thou seest by Felix Mendelssohn
Performer: Kenneth Branagh (Spoken Vocals), Sylvia McNair (Soprano), Angelika Kirchschlager (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor: Claudio Abbado
Period: Romantic
Written: 1842 ; Germany
7. Midsummer Night's Dream, Op. 61: Intermezzo by Felix Mendelssohn
Performer: Kenneth Branagh (Spoken Vocals)
Conductor: Claudio Abbado
Orchestra/Ensemble: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic
Written: 1842 ; Germany
8. Midsummer Night's Dream, Op. 61: Nocturne by Felix Mendelssohn
Performer: Kenneth Branagh (Spoken Vocals)
Conductor: Claudio Abbado
Orchestra/Ensemble: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic
Written: 1842 ; Germany
9. Midsummer Night's Dream, Op. 61: And now I have the boy by Felix Mendelssohn
Performer: Kenneth Branagh (Spoken Vocals), Sylvia McNair (Soprano), Angelika Kirchschlager (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor: Claudio Abbado
Period: Romantic
Written: 1842 ; Germany
10. Midsummer Night's Dream, Op. 61: Wedding March by Felix Mendelssohn
Performer: Kenneth Branagh (Spoken Vocals)
Conductor: Claudio Abbado
Orchestra/Ensemble: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic
Written: 1842 ; Germany
11. Midsummer Night's Dream, Op. 61: Finale by Felix Mendelssohn
Performer: Kenneth Branagh (Spoken Vocals), Sylvia McNair (Soprano), Angelika Kirchschlager (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor: Claudio Abbado
Period: Romantic
Written: 1842 ; Germany
12. Symphony no 4 in A major, Op. 90 "Italian" by Felix Mendelssohn
Conductor: Claudio Abbado
Orchestra/Ensemble: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic
Written: 1833 ; Germany
13. Midsummer Night's Dream, Op. 61 by Felix Mendelssohn
Performer: Kenneth Branagh (Spoken Vocals), Sylvia McNair (Soprano), Angelika Kirchschlager (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor: Claudio Abbado
Period: Romantic
Written: 1842 ; Germany
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