Belgian National Orchestra – Alexander Shelley conductor – Herbert Schuch piano
Ein Sommernachtstraum, op. 61 (Scherzo, Nocturne, Hochzeitsmarsch) Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy
Piano Concerto, op. 54 Robert Schumann
Hamlet Incidental Music, op. 32 Dmitry Shostakovich
Macbeth, op. 23 Richard Strauss
The scampering feet of impatient fairies can be heard in the Overture of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. When Mendelssohn first read Shakespeare’s play, the seventeen-year-old composer was so enthusiastic that he wrote a concert overture full of the most fantastic effects.
Dreams deteriorate into nightmares. The evil that lurks in all of us awakens. A wandering castle ghost reveals to Hamlet his father's murderer. The young prince is intent on revenge. In 1932 a young Shostakovich was asked to compose the music to a staged version of Hamlet. The theatre debut of Nikolaj Akimov, in which Ophelia appeared on stage as a drunk prostitute and Hamlet was portrayed as an exuberant bon vivant, developed into a national scandal. Although critics' opinions varied significantly, they all agreed on one thing: Shostakovich’s music was by far the best thing about it.
Macbeth is the least frequently performed of Strauss’ symphonic poems. Craving power, General Macbeth — heavily influenced by his wife — causes a bloodbath in order to achieve his ambitions. Lady Macbeth: “Come, you spirits / That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here, / And fill me from the crown to the toe topful / Of direst cruelty!” Shakespeare’s direst cruelties are in good hands with piano virtuoso Herbert Schuch — winner of the London International Piano Competition — and maestro Alexander Shelley.