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Overture & Incidental Music to A Midsummer Night's Dream

Budapest Festival Orchestra

Mendelssohn, Fanny Mendelssohn

SKU: 37418

Year of release: 2018

Incidental Music to A Midsummer Night's Dream 47:55
1. Overture Mendelssohn 13:47
2. Scherzo Mendelssohn 04:33
3. Allegro vivace Mendelssohn 01:35
4. Song with choir Mendelssohn 04:24
5. Intermezzo Mendelssohn 03:23
6. Notturno Mendelssohn 06:05
7. Wedding March Mendelssohn 05:24
8. Funeral March Mendelssohn 01:32
9. Dance of the clowns Mendelssohn 01:50
10. Finale Mendelssohn 05:17
11. May Night Opus 9 no. 6 Fanny Mendelssohn 02:25
12. Distance Opus 9 no. 2 Fanny Mendelssohn 02:58
13. Gondola song opus 1 no. 6 Fanny Mendelssohn 03:13
Total time: 56:33

About this album

No doubt fairies exist. Mendelssohn spoke their language well. When he considered composing music to Shakespeare’s play, he decided to focus on the scenes with fairies.
Humans like this music. It entertains them. They are allowed to listen to this cd, too. However, we made this recording for fairies. They listen differently. This recording is full of hidden messages, which they will understand.
Fairies are around us all the time. They occasionally interfere but sometimes they take a long time waiting for the right moment. If you keep your voice down and open your eyes, you will notice them. They listen to this music with more attention.
– Iván Fischer

Download booklet


Presto Classical [Editor's Choice]

This Budapest Dream is a far more raucous and rustic affair than John Eliot Gardiner’s recent plush pastoral idyll with the LSO: it’s as if even Fischer’s fairies have dirt under their fingernails, and the spirit of Shakespeare’s ‘rude mechanicals’ is never far away. The horns and bassoons have an almost Mahlerian quality in the Nocturne, and likewise the tiny parodic funeral-march (incidental-music-within-incidental-music for Pyramus and Thisbe) wouldn’t be out of place in a Mahler symphony.


(...) Fischer brilliantly conveys the magical world of fairies in the opening bars of the 'Overture', thanks to the superb playing of his crack Budapest Festival Orchestra. The immaculate wind chords and ethereal string textures are testament to the remarkable quality of this orchestra displayed throughout this recording. (...) It need hardly be stated that the recording (DSD 5.0) from engineers Jared Sacks and Hein Dekker made in the Palace of Arts, Budapest is in Channel Classic' usual house style, beyond reproach.

The Guardian

Fischer and his Budapest forces cast a spell with A Midsummer Night’s Dream Midsummer fever is all around: Radio 3 recently took itself off Into the Forest for a week, including al fresco breakfasts with the gregarious Petroc Trelawny, documentaries and atmospheric, forest-inspired In Tune Mixtapes. Meanwhile the Budapest Festival Orchestra, under its ever original music director, Iván Fischer, released an album for fairies. “They listen differently,” he writes. “This recording is full of hidden messages which they will understand.” Fortunately this gloriously atmospheric account of Mendelssohn’s incidental music for A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Channel Classics) is also for humans (“they are allowed to listen to this album too”). It’s always been a favorite work of Fischer’s, and the depth he brings to this youthful marvel – starting with the Overture the precocious Mendelssohn wrote at the age of 17 – is made out of precisely characterised instrumental colours and perfect shaping of the lines. Transparent fairy wind chords, scuttling high strings, braying portamentos and then the edging in of the final wistful string melody – all are incomparably lovely. The drama continues in the later added movements: a truly impassioned, fast Intermezzo, a bucolic but exact Scherzo, a (deliberately?) stolid Wedding March, a Gypsy clarinet in the rarely heard Funeral March, and the crisply sung vocal numbers with Anna Lucia Richter – who aptly adds a bonus of three fine songs by Mendelssohn’s sister, Fanny. Surely a disc of the year.

Audiophile Audition [5 stars]

(...) a conscientious, joyous reading that delights in Bottom’s donkey effects, a drunken Funeral March, effervescent textures, and light graciousness of heart. (...)

Classic FM - Album of the Week!

It’s the sign of an outstanding conductor if he can make you hear familiar music in a different way (...) Ivan Fischer‘s account of the celebrated Overture, composed when Mendelssohn was only 16, is full of delightful touches, like the braying of the asses, which has never before made me smile so much.

BBC Radio 3 [Disc of the Week]

(...) a characterful, colourful account. Mendelssohn’s fairies have their wings in the air as they should but a few of them have their feet on the ground. There’s a rustic edge to the music making which I find very attractive. (...)

Classical Candor

(…) Fischer's way with the music is gentle and affectionate, almost consistently keeping it as light and airy as it should be. (…) warm and smooth and reverberant and easily listenable. (…)

The Sunday Times

I used to say that Mendelssohn never managed to recapture his teenage overture’s freshness when he returned to Shakespeare’s play 16 years later. Hearing this lovely performance, I realise that’s rubbish. Fischer’s wonderful orchestra works as if everyone revels in what they are doing.


The Best Classical Albums of 2018 Iván Fischer again demonstrates why his Budapest Festival Orchestra is one of the world’s best, performing Mendelssohn’s will-o’-the-wisp masterpiece with shimmering delicacy, agility and precision.

BBC Music Magazine [4 Stars]

The playing throughout is of the highest quality

Het Parool

(...) Dirigent Iván Fischer heeft met zijn veelgeprezen Boedapest Festival Orkest een prachtuitvoering gemaakt (...) Ze spelen het allemaal schitterend. (...)

Classic FM [Album of the Week]

“It's a fresh take on established classics this week, as the incomparable Iván Fischer and his beloved Budapest Festival Orchestra have at some of Mendelssohn's finest works. In amongst the incidental music and overture to A Midsummer Nights Dream you'll find numerous corners of interest, orchestral detail that you'd perhaps forgotten over the years - what a pleasure it is to rediscover it now.”


(...) À défaut de pouvoir plaire à tout le monde, la lecture d’Ivan Fischer et ses musiciens donnera du baume au cœur à ceux qui déplorent la standardisation, réelle ou supposée, des orchestres symphoniques : depuis sa création en 1983, la phalange hongroise n’a de cesse d’être façonnée dans la tradition de la Mitteleuropa au risque de partis pris contestables. (...) La prise de son bien définie permet une restitution optimale des parties chorales et solistes.

De Gelderlander

(...) sprankelende ouverture die nu weer vederlicht, dan weer stoer klinkt (...) Aan energie ontbreekt het hier niet. (...) Kleurrijk en perfect qua frasering en timing. (...) Aantrekkelijk is tenslotte de gekozen repertoireaanvulling: een drietal liederen van Fanny Mendelssohn. Die kom je immers niet zo vaak tegen en dat is jammer. Zeker in het geval van zo'n Gondellied, hier hartveroverend onder de aandacht gebracht door Anna Lucia Richter.

Opus Klassiek

Het gehele ensemble weet bovendien de sprookjessfeer uitstekend op te roepen en daar is het de componist uiteindelijk om begonnen. Bovendien: als het om ritmische precisie en dynamische nuancering gaat kun je Fischer wel om een boodschap sturen. Afgaande op de cover had hij er ook echt zin in. (…) een luisterfeest dat nog een extra dimensie krijgt als u over een surround-opstelling beschikt. (...) Fanny Mendelssohns drie voor orkest gezette liederen (op teksten van Hölty, Tieck en Geibel) vormen een welkome aanvulling. De uitvoering is eveneens top, terwijl we deze liederen helaas maar zelden horen.

(...) Clarté des plans sonores, cordes dansantes ou frissonnantes, délicatesse et inventivité des solos instrumentaux (comme cette clarinette aigre-douce, dont l’esprit klezmer colore la Marche funèbre), vivacité des tempos, chaleur et générosité du son constituent autant d’ingrédients essentiels pour que le sortilège agisse et déploie tous ses effets. (...)

Technical Specifications

Recording Type Bit RateDSD
Mastering RoomVan den Hul 3T Cables - Grimm LS1 Speakers
Mixing BoardRens Heijnis, custom design
Editing SoftwarePyramix Editing / Merging Technologies
SpeakersAudio Lab, Holland
Digital ConvertersDSD Super Audio / Grimm Audio
MicrophonesBruel & Kjaer 4006, Schoeps
Mastering EngineerJared Sacks
Recording EngineerHein Dekker, Jared Sacks
ProducerHein Dekker
Recording LocationPalace of Arts, Budapest - January 2015