Felix Mendelssohn

Overture for orchestra in F major ("Fair Melusina"), Op. 32

    Description by James Reel

    A medieval French romance, first recorded in 1387 by Jean d'Arras, tells of a water sprite, or mermaid, named Melusine (in English, Melusina). She is able to render her fishy bottom half human for several days at a time to go about on land. She is able to marry Count Raymond of Poitiers, but only on the condition that he never see her on Saturdays, as that's when she must resume her mermaid form. Eventually, of course, Raymond does spy on her one Saturday, with dire results according to a few versions of the story. However, most versions are, so to speak, watered down. Mendelssohn was captivated by the tale and wrote a concert overture on the subject. The music does not narrate a specific sequence of events, but, like Tchaikovsky's later Romeo and Juliet, simply evokes certain characters and situations from the story. The first section employs a gracefully burbling theme introduced by clarinets, suggesting Melusine and her natural environment. There soon follows a long, turbulent passage relating to the storm and stress of life among humans, which subsides into a less strenuous melody under which the rhythm of the more violent section remains. That rhythm, incidentally, is derived from the fluid, watery figure in the overture's opening bars. Mendelssohn subjects all this material to a substantial development. The final section returns to the gentler music of the opening, which gradually slows, thins, and trickles away.

    Appears On

    Year Title / Performer Label / Catalog # AllMusic Rating
    2019
    Chandos
    CHSA 5235
    2019
    Harmonia Mundi
    HMM 902369DI
    2019
    Harmonia Mundi
    HMM 902369
    2019
    Linn Records
    CKR 555
    2018
    Capriccio Records
    C 7250
    2016
    MDG
    MDG 9011949
    2016
    Linn Records
    CKD 555
    2016
    Warner Classics
    0190295929718
    2015
    Various Artists
    Menuetto Classics
    2015
    BIS
    2166
    2015
    Brilliant Classics
    95119BR
    2014
    Decca
    2014
    Brilliant Classics
    94936
    2013
    Elatus
    46750
    2013
    Deutsche Grammophon
    4791046
    2012
    Various Artists
    Berlin Classics
    0300341
    2012
    Various Artists
    Berlin Classics
    0300341BC
    2011
    Various Artists
    Berlin Classics
    0300249BC
    2011
    EMI Classics
    2010
    Guild / Guild
    2358/9
    2010
    Warner Classics
    2010
    Decca
    2010
    Deutsche Grammophon
    2010
    Berlin Classics
    0300088
    2009
    Various Artists
    Berlin Classics
    0149572
    2009
    Warner Classics / Wcj
    4692729
    2009
    Decca
    4800382
    2008
    Berlin Classics
    0014342BC
    2008
    Various Artists
    Berlin Classics
    0184312BC
    2008
    Deutsche Grammophon
    4696432
    2007
    Berlin Classics
    0149252BC
    2006
    Berlin Classics
    0185532
    2005
    Arts Archives
    43042
    2004
    Berlin Classics
    0013402BC
    2004
    Artemis Classics
    ATMCD1274
    2002
    Deutsche Grammophon
    2001
    IMP Classics
    2003
    2001
    Black Box Classics
    3005
    2000
    BBC Legends / BBC Music
    44032
    2000
    Virgin
    61280
    2000
    Dutton Laboratories
    5026
    1999
    BBC Legends / BBC Music
    40122
    1999
    Capriccio Records
    10708
    1999
    Capriccio Records
    492665
    1998
    Carlton Classics
    02322
    1997
    Berlin Classics
    0093 122BC
    1996
    Teldec
    94543
    1995
    IMP Classics
    2045
    1995
    Phoenix
    701
    1995
    Berlin Classics
    0091572
    1993
    Music & Arts
    281
    1993
    IMP Classics
    1023
    1988
    Deutsche Grammophon
    423104
    1980
    Tahra
    273
    Deutsche Grammophon
    437000
    Iron Needle
    1420
    Decca
    000298202
    Various Artists
    IMP Classics
    21
    IMP Classics
    8
    Melodram
    18013
    BBC Music Magazine
    225
    Capriccio Records
    492412
    Universal Distribution
    471467
    EXL
    4304
    Deutsche Grammophon
    415353
    Deutsche Grammophon
    437013
    MCA
    5849
    Vox
    8145
    Arlecchino
    167