BBCSSO/Pintscher review - incidental Mendelssohn anything but

08.23.16
Matthias Pintscher
The Guardian

Opportunities to hear Mendelssohn’s incidental music to A Midsummer Night’s Dream in its entirety are rare, though a handful of extracts – the Overture, Scherzo, Nocturne and the ubiquitous Wedding March – are popular concert pieces. But there’s much more to it than these, including a sequence of melodramas (consisting of music written to accompany speech), two songs with chorus, and an odd little comic-grotesque funeral march in the play-within-a-play sequence.

This year’s Shakespeare celebrations inspired this Proms performance of the whole score in a version devised by Gerard McBurney, incorporating (with the help of half a dozen skilful actors) some of the original context for the music.

It was entertainingly done, with delicate vocal standouts from soprano Katherine Broderick and mezzo Clara Mouriz, and the Finchley Children’s Music Group providing the shaded tones of the fairy troupe. Highlights included the moonlit Nocturne, the troubled Intermezzo and the gossamer Scherzo, in all of which the players of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra shone under their artist-in-association, Matthias Pintscher.

Pintscher’s own music preceded Mendelssohn’s in the shape of his substantial cello concerto Reflections of Narcissus, his second piece on the subject, with Alisa Weilerstein a soloist up to every extended technique and special effect the infinitely demanding writing could throw at her.

Multicoloured in its scoring, wildly diverse in its textures – often fragmentary, occasionally explosive – the result felt like a gigantic freewheeling phantasmagoria, not always easy to follow, yet never relinquishing its sense of adventure and challenge. 

Read the rest of the review here