Theatre/Music Review: Mendelssohn’s Dream

Presented by Adelaide Symphony Orchestra
Reviewed 16 October 2015

As part of their two-concert tribute to Mendelssohn, the ASO presented a performance of, possibly his best known work, A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Opening the night was Bach, Brandenburg Concerto No 1 in F Major. Bach has been presented along with Mendelssohn, as he was a major force in the re-recognition of Bach, in the 19th century. Surprisingly, this was the first time that the ASO had performed this particular Brandenburg. Under the enthusiastic and passionate baton of Nicholas McGegan, the orchestra, along with guest violinist Elizabeth Layton, gave this piece the colour and gusto it deserves.

Next on the programme was Three Motets, opus 39, by Mendelssohn, the first performance of this suite by any of the Australian state orchestras. The centrepiece of this work was the sublime singing by the Women of the Elder Conservatorium Chorale, under the guidance of the extraordinary Carl Crossin.  Originally written for nuns in Rome, the piece is gently spiritual, without being overtly liturgical.

After the interval, the main piece of the night opened with four actors from State Theatre Company: Terence Crawford, Dale March, John Maurice and Anna Steen, speaking lines from Shakespeare’s text, in a chorale-like interplay. As the orchestra began playing, magical lighting transformed the stage into a forest-floor and the magnificent town hall organ, into massive trees. Throughout the piece, the actors continued to perform short segments from the text. This never jarred, instead seeming to be a dialogue between orchestra and players. The choir also wove their magic through this piece, with Emma Wu and Charlotte Kelso, taking on some acting along with their solos. Wu seemed to be lacking a little in power, but the singing was sweet, nonetheless.  It was breathtaking, visually and musically, from start to finish.

Our orchestra continues to build on its repertoire, take risks, encourage new work, and develop new ways of doing old work. If you have never been to a classical concert, the ASO will not disappoint.

Reviewed by Tracey Korsten

Mendelssohn’s Dream played the Adelaide Town Hall, October 16th and 17th.

The ASO’s next, major concert is Mendelssohn’s Bach, Adelaide Town Hall, 23rd and 24th October


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