Relayed from the National Museum of Wales
National Orchestra of Wales
(Cerddorfa Genedlaethol Cymru)
Mendelssohn's A Midsummer Night's Dream, more than any other of his works, presents him to us as a veritable 'Peter Pan' of music, who definitely refused to grow up. It had its birth in the garden of the house in Berlin to which the family had just moved in Mendelssohn's seventeenth year, the same garden in which so much fine music was afterwards finely played. And though the work of a mere boy, it is, in every way which matters, masterly music. But it is its grace and charm, its clear freshness of open spaces, with something of the warm glamour of summer nights, the mischief of Puck, and the boisterous mirth of the Clowns' Dance, which the listener recognizes, rather than the skill with which the work is built. As has been well said of it, 'Shakespeare himself has not more magic at command to transport us from the noise of cities and the chill of windswept streets.' The principal themes are those which illustrate the Shakespeare play in the way suggested above.
Seventeen years later, Mendelssohn composed the remaining numbers for the play, recapturing the same fresh, youthful spirit which had inspired the Overture; it would be quite easy to believe, did we not know the facts, that all the numbers were written at the same time and with the same wholehearted boyish enthusiasm.