Continuing his award-winning cycle of works by Felix Mendelssohn, Sir John Eliot Gardiner leads the LSO, his Monteverdi Choir and three talented young actors from the Guildhall in a landmark performance of 'A Midsummer Night’s Dream', which was performed as part of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. To mark the celebrations, Gardiner produced a special version of the work featuring some cuts to the original movements that, in his words, "remove all of the music relating to the Mechanicals and thus focus on the world of the fairies and the human lovers". Mendelssohn, who adored Shakespeare’s writings, composed his concert overture based on 'A Midsummer Night’s Dream' in 1827 aged 17, after having read a German translation of the play. The overture was immediately acclaimed as a masterpiece and quickly became a popular favourite throughout Europe. Years later in 1843 he was asked by the King of Prussia to provide a score for an entire production: 14 short works based on themes and moods from the original overture, with a broadly romantic sound although classical in style and structure.
Sir John Eliot Gardiner has revolutionized music making with his Monteverdi Choir and the English Baroque Soloists, and has created completely new sounds from many well-known works.
Agrippina – a portrayal of lust and power set in first century Rome – was first performed in December 1709 at the Teatro San Giovanni Crisostomo, Venice. This "arrangement" by John Eliot Gardiner was recorded in 1991/2 in London and has now been re-released. It was Handel's second and last opera to be composed during his time in Italy, from 1706 to 1710. Written against some resistance (the composer at first saw "no good reason" to write (such) an opera) in three weeks while in Venice, it represented the first such popular acclaim of Handel's career being performed over two dozen times in succession.
"Leclair's single opera Scylla et Glaucus may lack the sheer audacity of his teacher Rameau, but it's enormously likeable…the performers respond…stylishly to Leclair's charming if slightly predictable sound-world…and the conducting preserves a neat balance between drama and ornament…It is clear that Gardiner favours intervention over chilly authenticity; whether or not you agree with all his decisions, the clarity of the image he presents is often provocative and always bracing." – Jan Smaczny, BBC Music Magazine
"John Eliot Gardiner has proved himself a doughty champion of the later French Baroque, cultivating credible performing methods and unearthing undeservedly neglected repertoire. … "Les Boreades" recorded in 1982. Viewed by many as one of the greatest of Rameau's operas, the score is both dramatically effective and a riot of orchestral colour. Gardiner conducts with a real feeling for the way in which instrumental timbre underpins the drama, while in a strong cast Philip Langridge is both stylish and superbly theatrical as Abaris." – Jan Smaczny, BBC Music Magazine
Sir John Eliot Gardiner and the London Symphony Orchestra join forces once again in the latest instalment of their exploration of Mendelssohn’s symphonies. Mendelssohn’s Symphony No 5, commonly known as the ‘Reformation’ Symphony, was written in 1830 to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the Augsberg confession – a seminal event in the Protestant Reformation. Allusions to the symphony’s title and inspiration can be heard throughout the music itself; the Dresden Amen is cited by the strings in the first movement whilst the finale is based on Martin Luther’s well-known chorale Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott (‘A Mighty Fortress is Our God’). Coupled with this are two of Mendelssohn’s overtures, Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage and Ruy Blas, both of which were inspired by literary works. Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage, based on two short poems by Goethe, depicts the journey of sailors at sea with a still adagio opening ultimately giving way to a triumphant homecoming. Completing the album, the overture Ruy Blas was commissioned by the Leipzig Theatre as an overture to Victor Hugo’s tragic drama of the same name.