Felix Mendelssohn's (1809-1847) overture to Ruy Blas dates from 1839. Early in that year the Theatrical Pension Fund in Leipzig requested music to accompany a benefit performance of Hugo's play. Though Mendelssohn was not an admirer of Hugo, he later wrote: "Few of my works have caused me more amusing excitement." The renowned English virtuoso Edwin H. Lemare (1865-1934) published his arrangement with Novello in 1899. Though Lemare's version is used as the basis for this performance, much is gained by judicious tailoring of a transcription to suit the unique resources of a specific instrument, not to mention the greater versatility offered by the registrational controls available to us today.
- Notes © 2005, Thomas Murray