Mendelssohn 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'
This recording was made with a single Nimbus Ambisonic microphone placed in front of the orchestra. In the space between the conductor and the microphone the actors were free to group themselves according to the demands of the dialogue. However, in the most dramatic parts of the play, the actors moved more freely, even on occasion going behind the microphone. Making the recording ‘live’, with musicians and actors performing together rather than mixing them later, created a unity of purpose and an experimental atmosphere during the sessions.
The balance of the orchestra is excellent with the strings well defined and the woodwind – not too predominant – nice and characterful. The romantic Nocturne is beautifully played with the right sort of impassioned dreaminess, and the famous Wedding March has all the panache that one would wish at a proper Allegro vivace speed. The delightful reprise of a passage from the Nocturne (with a new string counterpoint) that underlines Oberon’s words “Come, my queen, takes hands with me” is a real emotional highlight. Incidentally the (in)famous passage for ophicleide in the Bergomask Dance sounds as though a real ophicleide was used, or maybe it is just a deliciously vulgar tuba. It is much less noticeable in the similar passage in the Overture, and the clearly deliberate distinction shows how carefully the dramatic side of the music has been considered. The final scene, from the Bergomask Dance onward, is a real delight.
As a recording of the Shakespeare play and Mendelssohn’s incidental music treated as an integral unit, then, this is very much a set which stands unchallenged in the catalogue. -Paul Corfield Godfrey, Musicweb-international.com