Midsummer Night's Dream

Midsummer Night's Dream

Saturday 20 August, 7.30pm

Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington

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Robert Schumann (1810 - 1856)
Dichterliebe (arr. Henrik Hellstenius) (1840)
Deborah Waikapohe, mezzo

Schumann documents a love filled with triumphs and reversals in this song cycle written in the surge of creativity that resulted when he was finally able, in defiance of her father’s opposition, to marry his longtime fiancée Clara Wieck. The music is based on poems by Heinrich Heine. The songs contain wonder, ecstasy, betrayal, despair, dream-fantasy and even hints of Heine’s mocking sarcasm, sometimes striking a note more modern than Romantic. 

Robert Schumann (1810 - 1856)
Cello Concerto (1850)
Inbal Megiddo, cello

This concerto is one of Schumann’s last major works. It was not performed during his lifetime, as his encroaching mental illness became too acute to promote it when he finished revising it in 1854. Clara was thus one of the few people aware of it, writing in her diary, “I have played Robert’s Violoncello Concerto through again, thus giving myself a truly musical and happy hour. The Romantic quality, the vivacity, the freshness and humour, also the highly interesting interweaving of violoncello and orchestra are indeed wholly ravishing, and what euphony and deep feeling one finds in all the melodic passages!” The concerto’s delicate opening woodwind chords seem to pay tribute to the beginning of Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Felix Mendelssohn (1809 - 1847)
Midsummer’s Night Dream (complete) (1826 and 1843)
Barbara Paterson Soprano
Michaela Cadwgan Soprano
Orpheus choir female chorus

The Mendelssohn children grew up reading and acting Shakespeare’s plays together for fun. When he was only 17, Felix Mendelssohn wrote an overture to their favourite, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Years later another great theatre-lover, the King of Prussia, Frederick William IV, asked Mendelssohn to write incidental music for the rest of it. Mendelssohn used themes from his Overture to develop a suite of pieces that include some of the most popular music in the orchestral repertoire, including the sparkling delicate Scherzo, the dreamy Nocturne with its solo horn, and the famous Wedding March. The play suggested many other places where music could enhance the drama, such as the various spells and incantations, the wedding feast in the third act, the Players’ Masque, and Puck’s final epilogue, “If we shadows have offended,” where the music evaporates into the same magical chords that opened the work.

Cello Concerto

Robert Schumann

Inbal Megiddo cello

Midsummers Night’s Dream (complete) (1826 and 1843)

Felix Mendelssohn

Barbara Paterson soprano

Michaela Cadwgan soprano

Orpheus choir female chorus