How to Build a Classical CD Collection

26. Mendelssohn: Italian Symphony & A Midsummer Night's Dream

Felix Mendelssohn was as precocious a child as Mozart had been fifty years before. The son of a prosperous banker and grandson of a leading Jewish figure of the Enlightenment, he enjoyed a rich cultural background and his musical talents were given every encouragement. As a young man he travelled, in order to broaden his education still further, and the Italian Symphony, with its famous Pilgrims' March and Neapolitan tarantella, recalls the months he spent in the warm south. His music for Shakespeare's comedy, A Midsummer Night's Dream, starts with an overture that he wrote in 1826, at the age of seventeen, and continues, on the recommended disc, with matching incidental music commissioned for performances of the play in Berlin in 1842. The excerpts from the incidental music end with the famous Wedding March.

Recommended recording
Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 4 "Italian" & A Midsummer Night's Dream (Highlights), played by the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra under the English conductor Anthony Bramall. Naxos 8.550055

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