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Mendelssohn/Lanchberry The Dream
American Ballet Theatre/
Pacific Symphony Orchestra with chorus/Ormsby Wilkins
Arthaus DVD 100 456 [16:9, 54 mins]
AmazonUK £17, or from their new rental service

Frederick Ashton's The Dream (1964) is a one-act compression of Shakespeare and Mendelssohn, abridged tolerably successfully and making for charming entertainment.

Visual diversion during the overture is particularly welcome; it can seem a little overlong when you've heard it many times, because of its repetitions, despite its undeniably deserved prodigy genius status.

Ormsby Wilkins plays it, and the rest of the score as abridged by John Lanchberry, with affection and good sound, and includes choral sections which are normally heard only in complete performances of the incidental music. Ashton assumes you know your Shakespeare and gives it an endearing, affectionate gloss. The rustics are kept in the background and we do not see their rehearsal. Ashton keeps things moving; his one-act ballet has been done at Covent Garden as a double bill with Mahler's Song of the Earth.

The male leads (Oberon and Puck) takes center stage and Steifel and Cornejo dominate this version. Ashton's ballet has something of an old-fashioned quality. This DVD is short measure at about 50 minutes, without any extras, but is well worth having on DVD. There are 26 tracks for easy navigation.

© Peter Grahame Woolf