Under Chailly, the Leipzigers have truly reclaimed a composer whose statue was once disgracefully removed – no need to guess by whom – from outside the Gewandhaus. All is joy and vitality in this significant miscellany. I’ve long wanted to hear what this team would make of the most irresistible overture/tone poem in the repertoire – and certainly the greatest large-scale work ever composed by a teenager – the Midsummer Night’s Dream Overture, the speedy airiness of its fairy music matched by a fast but never over-pressed scherzo.
You’ll never find the Wedding March sounding less hackneyed, either. A shame there wasn’t room for more of the incidental numbers – the miniature march and the numbers with singers would have been welcome – but the whole programme is pleasurable. What great ideas Mendelssohn had in the Ruy Blas Overture. The advertised original version isn’t vastly different from the one we usually hear until towards the end.
The speedy, scintillating approach to the concise, through-composed piano concertos, one shared in perfect teamwork by Saleem Ashkar, works well too: vivacity and the occasional touch on Mendelssohn’s part of some unusual scoring – chiefly violas and divided cellos in No. 1’s Andante – helps to obscure thematic ideas rather more commonplace than in the other works.