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A CurtainUp Berkshire Feature
Christopher Plummer Makes A Midsummer Night's Dream Soar at Tanglewood
By Elyse Sommer
Who would have thought that the summer 2003 season's acting tour de force would be at the Tanglewood Music Festival. But there you are. Christopher Plummer's narration of A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Festivail's August 22nd all Mendelssohn evening thrillingly and memorably reconceived the usual narration for Mendelssohn's beautiful incidental music.
As Mr. Plummer, who's world renown for his distinguished stage and screen roles, explained in his notes for his and Michael Lankester's new arrangement, " in the concert hall, literature and music are strange but intriguing bedfellows" with the author, even if it's Shakespeare, often overpowered by the orchestra. In the case of A Midsummer Night's Dream the Bard's text has in the past "been dealt a fatal blow." Except for a smattering elves and goblins, little remains of "its rich humanity, its greatest poetry, its infinite variety." He comments on the loss of the great clowns with "for the love of heaven, send in the clowns!" He mourns the omission of the story. Best of all, he's done something about it. Instead of standing at a lectern and reading bits of text, the actor was all over the stage segueing from one part to the other (clowns included, naturally!) -- from his seat, standing, moving about.
While still very much a concert, firmly conducted by Sir Neville Marriner with singing by the soprano Kendra Colton and mezzo-soprano Zheng Cao and the women of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, it was also theater in every sense of the word. My only regret was that my London colleague and Midsummer Night's Dream aficionado, Lizzy Loveridge, wasn't with me to add this to her memory bank of dream performances of Dream.
This marvelously theatrical concert, was just half of a perfect whole, the first half being the Boston Symphony debut of the dynamic young pianist Lang Lang playing Mendelssohn's Piano Concerto No.l in G minor, Opus 25. The twenty-year old high speed virtuoso is as one with the piano as Yo Yo Ma is with the cello.
To add to the pleasures of this double treat, it was a perfect night. Who could ask for anything more?
To keep up with the Boston Symphony's activities in Boston as well as at Tanglewood, bookmark their Web Site
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