Midsummer Night’s Dream (Sommernachtstraum), op. 21. és op. 61.

Suite movements: Overture-Scherzo-Fairies Dance-Song and chorus-Intermezzo-Notturno-Wedding march-Dance of the Mechanicals-Finale

Mendelssohn (1809-1847) stamped himself indelibly into the history of music with his overture to a Midsummer Night’s Dream, penned at the tender age of 17. Not even Mozart was composing works of such maturity in his teens. It is clear that Mendelssohn was more drawn to the fanciful world of fairies than to the underlying adult eroticism of the original play, but for a sheltered teenager this hardly comes as a surprise. Liszt described the four magical woodwind chords that open and close the overture as being like someone closing their eyes and entering a dream world. Then the eyes are opened again as the dream world is bidden farewell. In 1843, Mendelssohn was asked to compose some incidental music to a stage production of the play and he elected to employ certain elements from his teenage overture. In the dance of the "rude mechanicals", the lapidary closing dance theme of the Overture’s exposition is turned into an individual movement. He develops the fairies’ theme of the Finale, heard with gossamer lightness on strings, into chorus music. In the Scherzo, a rich texture of small motifs unfold above an unceasing, even pulse. The woodwinds play a leading role and evoke the atmosphere of a Brandenburg Concerto. The Notturno is a typical representative of romantic forest music with obligato horns. Sometimes in concert performances, a grotesque small movement (funeral march) is inserted between the Wedding March and the Mechanical’s Dance. With its atmosphere and melodic turns, it foresees Mahler’s funeral march parody from the First Symphony.

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