Il Sogno

London Symphony Orchestra, Elvis Costello

Il Sogno is the 20th studio album by Elvis Costello, released in 2004 by Deutsche Grammophon. It is performed by the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas.

British rock star Elvis Costello's score to Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream (Il Sogno was commissioned by an Italian ballet company, hence the title) is derived from the French impressionists, with touches of Duke Ellington, George Gershwin, and Igor Stravinsky. Recurring saxophone riffs mirror orchestrations by Serge Prokofiev and Maurice Ravel, while eerie ripples of cimbolom (a folkloric hammered dulcimer) are straight out of Béla Bartok. Costello's use of leitmotif tidily depicts characters and subplots; the fairies come across as a jazzy, sexy lot whose intervention in human affairs is selfishly mean-spirited rather than playful. The four human lovers are flummoxed by their own callowness long before they encounter the supernatural. The nobles seem like posturing windbags while the plebian worker/players are ponderously endearing. The LSO and Michael Tilson Thomas exult in the work's textures and climaxes. Even though the milieu is more cinematic than symphonic, this beguiling confection is light-years beyond most pop-classical crossover attempts.

- Christina Roden

Il Sogno is a ballet score for orchestra commissioned by the Aterballetto Dance Company of Reggio Emilia in 2000. The ballet itself used A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare for its subject material. The premiere performance took place on 31 October 2000, at the Teatro Comunale di Bologna.

An initial recording of the work was made by the house orchestra at the Teatro Comunale to accommodate venues that had no orchestra to present the score live. The present recording was taped over four days in April 2002, with the composer in attendance. It was released the same day as The Delivery Man.

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