Felix Mendelsohn – Overtures.
The Fair Melusine op.32 / A Midsummer Night’s Dream op.21 / Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage op.27 / Overture for Wind Instruments op.24 / Trumpet Overture op.101 / Ruy Blas op.95. / The Hebrides op.26 [Fingal’s Cave].
London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Claudio Abbado
Deutche Grammophon 423 104 - 2
These recordings date from 1984-1986 and were all made in London, variously at St John’s Smith Square, Walthamstow Town Hall , Abbey Road Studios and All Saints, Tooting.
Mendelssohn certainly perfected the art of the concert overture as a genre, although some presented here are more familiar than others. I had never encountered the Trumpet Overture until I happened to hear it recently on a BBC Radio Three broadcast, featuring this particular CD. It was written when the composer was – amazingly – just seventeen, and actually pre-dates the Midsummer Night’s Dream overture from the same year – 1826. It bears many of his ‘musical fingerprints’ and foreshadows much of his later work. Incredibly, it was never published in his lifetime and was given a posthumous opus number.
Although the Overture for Wind Instruments (a contemporary of The Hebrides) did not suffer the same fate, it is another piece which inexplicably has ‘fallen by the wayside’ and although it is – in all likelihood – unknown to more than just a handful of Mendelssohn zealots, it’s certainly worth getting-to-know.
Claudio Abbado’s tempi are always on the brisk side and the LSO perform with great verve and ‘sparkle’.
For those who – like me – marvel at the prodigious talents of Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, this CD is highly recommended and a bargain at well under £10.00 online.