Surround Yourself With A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Shakespeare’s complete play with MENDELSSOHN’s complete incidental music (Nimbus DVD-A & DTS)

by | Jun 7, 2005 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

Surround Yourself With A Midsummer Night’s Dream –
Shakespeare’s complete play with MENDELSSOHN’s complete incidental
music – Actors from The Royal Scottish Academy of Music &
Drama/Scottish Chamber Orchestra/Jaime Laredo cond. – Nimbus DVD-A (2
sided) NI 9009, 112 minutes ****:

This effort in Nimbus’ “Surround Yourself” series – which boast 4.0 DTS
as well as 2.0 PCM options – was something of a surprise. I had thought
the complete music would be introduced by just some excerpts from the
complete play, but the 112 minute total time is exactly the same as the
BBC-TV DVD of the play (with Helen Merrin) so evidently this is one of
the Bard’s shorter plays even with all the music.

The recording was made in Glasgow in l985, using a single Ambisonic mic
of Nimbus’ own design, placed above and behind the conductor on the
podium. The actors placed themselves in the space between the mic and
the conductor, moving freely around as the play demanded, and in one
case passing behind the mic. The balances are generally good between
the music and the actors.  I had feared that turning up the volume
to hear the quieter spoken passages would find the music deafening when
the incidental music returned, but the only spoken parts I had trouble
hearing clearly were a couple of the softer-spoken female actors. The
notes report that during the recording sessions both the actors and the
symphony musicians were surprised and excited about how perfectly the
music integrated with a complemented Shakespeare’s drama.

There is considerable variety among the actors voices – Bottom, for
example, sounding like he could be doing a comedy bit on Grand Ol’
Opry.  So it is not difficult to follow the various characters,
even though they go thru some transformations of character due to the
puckishness of Puck. I hadn’t sat down to listen to a complete audio
version of a classic play such as this for many years, and found it
most enjoyable. The enduring comedy has three plots intertwining: the
love affairs of Demetrius and Helena, Lysander and Hermia, the comic
performance of “Pyramus and Thisby” by the tradesmen of Athens and the
fairyland antics of King Oberon and Queen Titania. If you don’t have
DVD-Audio playback, the DTS option is just about as good, being 24 bit
vs. the 20 bit of the DVD-A (although the sampling rate is 48K instead
of the 88.2 of the MLP option).

– John Sunier

 

Related Reviews