Allentown Morning Call, April 2, 2005

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Il Sogno

Elvis Costello

W.J. Fenza

★★★

It's very seldom that I replay the recordings I'm asked to review, but Elvis Costello's original music for an Italian ballet company's production of Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream, or Il Sogno di una Notte di Mezza Estate, is special, and I'm still listening to it. To hear one of the world's great orchestras, the London Symphony, conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas, luxuriating in this unusual score — some 70 minutes of dances (with no vocals) — is a rare treat. For Costello it has to be the realization of a dream, like a kid in a candy store with a stack of fifties, or a child let loose to play with every color in the Crayola Factory. To the gorgeous sounds of a full orchestra Costello has added a drum kit, a free-wheeling saxophone, a cimbalon, a swinging double bass and a celesta. For the fairies (Oberon, Titania, Puck, etc.) there are jazz riffs right out of Bernstein's Side Story, and for the royal human court there are witty minuets and waltzes and touches of Prokofiev. There is lovely string and woodwind music for the lovers, and for the Mechanicals (Bottom and his clumsy crowd) we get noisy march music with lots of brass and percussion. It is remotely possible that the Italian ballet may be seen over here, but it will never sound anywhere near as gloriously as it does on this splendid recording. Elvis lives!

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Allentown Morning Call, April 2, 2005


W.J. Fenza reviews Il Sogno.


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