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Steve Hackett

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Steve Hackett A Midsummer Night's Dream album cover
3.58 | 208 ratings | 11 reviews | 18% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1997

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Palace of Theseus (2:47)
2. A Form in Wax (4:40)
3. By Paved Fountain (2:00)
4. Titania (2:23)
5. Set Your Heart at Rest (3:31)
6. Oberon (2:31)
7. Within This Wood (2:36)
8. In the Beached Margent of the Sea (2:38)
9. Between the Cold Moon & the Earth (2:44)
10. Puck (1:53)
11. Helena (4:21)
12. Peaseblossom, Cobweb, Moth & Mustardseed (4:28)
13. Mountains Turned into Clouds (4:36)
14. The Lunatic, the Lover & the Poet (4:14)
15. Starlight (4:48)
16. Lysander & Demetrius (2:45)
17. Celebration (6:15)
18. All Is Mended (3:13)

Total Time 62:23

Line-up / Musicians

- Steve Hackett / classical guitar, arranger & producer

- Roger King / St. Simon Zelotes church organ (17), arrangements & mixing
- John Hackett / flute (9,12,14)
- The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
- Matt Dunkley / orchestrations & conducting

Releases information

Artwork: Kim Poor with Lippa Pearce (design)

CD Camino Classics - CAMCD22 (1997, UK)
CD EMI Classics ‎- 7243 5 56348 (1997, UK)
CD Wolfwork Records ‎- 9758122 (2013, UK)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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Buy STEVE HACKETT A Midsummer Night's Dream Music

STEVE HACKETT A Midsummer Night's Dream ratings distribution

(208 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(18%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(35%)
Good, but non-essential (36%)
Collectors/fans only (8%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

STEVE HACKETT A Midsummer Night's Dream reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Those who rated Steve Hackett as "just another good guitar player" surely received a slap in their faces with this album. The guy is "at least" in the level of Steve Howe.

People who are expecting a typical prog' album may not like the music because it's mostly classical work but everybody must admit that the quality of Steve's guitar is absolutely incredible and his composition is superlative.

Based on the Williams Shakespeare play and performed with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, this album is a masterpiece.

Review by soundsweird
2 stars I really expected something special after reading the AMG review. If you pick out one track and listen to it, it's great. But if you listen to several tracks in a row, there's a sameness that I found annoying. It seemed like every track would start out with a promise that went unfulfilled. The orchestral passages seemed uninspired and overdone; you never hear just a few instruments accompanying Hackett, it's always the full orchestra or nothing. And once the orchestra came in, they played until the track was over (yes, this is an unfair oversimplification, but it does convey the feeling I got by the time I was two- thirds of the way through the album). The best tracks are the quieter ones, which are surprisingly few and far between. Oh, well, he's a prolific guy; maybe he'll do a similar, better work soon. Preferably with just a small chamber group behind him.
Review by Matti
4 stars (I got this as a cassette some years ago. I can't say it's been played a lot but the same fate would be with just about any taping of classical music, no matter how great I considered the music itself. I listen to that genre from radio daily, and occasionally from my CD's. The other effect of the cassette format is that I have never 'learned' to follow this work trackwise, like I more easily would have with a CD.)

And pure classical music this is; an orchestral suite for acoustic guitar. Surely Hackett had shown in his 'rock' recordings how the classical guitar is close to him, but here he's composing for/ working with a philharmonic orchestra for the first time. And he succeeds absolutely well, though it is clear that he has composed primarily for the guitar, backed up by the orchestra which is not present in all tracks at all. But before judging the work from that point of view one has to remember the essence of guitar as a classical concert instrument: it is a 'weak' instrument that tends to sink behind the orchestra, and it can be physically hard to play a guitar concerto. With over an hour's duration this would be a notable task for the soloist (and a bit tiring for the audience - rewarding too, no doubt), but maybe it was thought as an album rather than a concert number.

The liner notes follow the Shakespeare play, making the music a coherent whole. Hackett owes nothing to Mendelssohn or anyone who has composed this play. He has captured the fairytale-like atmosphere much better. This is beautiful music for an adult cultivated taste, a celebration of fairies, midsummer night's magic and an acoustic guitar. At least it works well as a peaceful background music for reading. (I don't give full rate as I can't entirely disagree with Rick's negative points. Good but not as exciting - especially for the arrangement - as it could be.)

Review by chessman
4 stars This is a classical guitar album and not progressive rock, but, if it were, it would be called an epic! A whole album devoted to one story, with twists and turns, fast and slow bits, amidst an often orchestral backdrop. (Sounds like an epic, doesn't it?) Based on Shakespeare's famous play, it brings all the main characters together - Oberon, Titania, Puck, Helena etc and provides them with some excellent music. Yes, it belongs in the classical section, and deserves to be highly rated there. It is certainly highly rated by me. Hackett's playing is fluent, plaintive, evocative and filled with an atmosphere only he can provide. Dissecting it to comment on individual tracks is pointless, this needs to be heard in its entirety. It sounds great through headphones, and should be listened to in the evening, with the lights turned low. The Royal Philharmonica Orchestra gets many chances to shine here, and Steve, as usual, never lets his guitar dominate too much, or get in the way of the storytelling. Roger King puts in an appearance, playing organ on 'Celebration' (he also helped to arrange the album with Steve, and he recorded and mixed it too!) Also, brother John appears on three tracks, with his ethereal flute playing only adding to the beauty of it all. This is a wonderful, relaxing album, and well recommended to both Hackett fans, and fans of classical music in general. Steve has that wonderful knack of making classical music sound just that bit more interesting, and has probably made many people investigate further the world of classical music. Bravo!
Review by ZowieZiggy
2 stars Another very much debated album from Steve.

He is a brilliant guitar player and a solo man for a long time by then (1997). Since he is managing his own career, he has investigated many genres he likes. From great symphonic albums (my favourite ones of course) to fully acoustic or even bluesy oriented ones.

Steve was already collaborating with a symphonic orchestra for the recording of his revisited "Watcher Of The Skies" work (Firth). I can't say that he got all my votes for this.

This album explores the classical repertoire and it is absolutely not my cup of tea. I guess I'm missing something, but this genre has never appealed to me. Most of this album features Steve alone on the guitar. Few tracks with the orchestra to be honest.

If I could cope with "Bay Of Kings", I thought that "Momentum" was just a pale copy and my feelings are quite mixed when I listen to "A Midsummer Night's Dream". The virtuosity of the man is of course not the problem. This album sweats it. But it is just that this type of work is not mine.

I am rating this album with two stars, but as far as prog is concerned you won't find anything close to it, I'm afraid. Pleasant maybe while you go to bed and want some relaxing music to fall into Morpheus' arms. But I prefer some great spacey and psychedelic music to do so.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
2 stars A midsummer's nightmare?

A Midsummer Night's Dream is Steve Hackett's third album of Classical music. It is different from the two first ones, Bay Of Kings and Momentum, in that it features The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra backing up Steve's acoustic guitar. Another thing that makes this stand out from the previous two is that it is conceptual. Like I said in my reviews for Bay Of Kings and Momentum, I prefer to see these Classical guitar albums as making up a parallel recording career of Steve's, rather than as being part of his regular Rock career. It is obvious which one of these is of most interest to the people on this site.

While this is a beautiful Classical album with several lovely passages, I find it overall to be quite unsatisfying. I always think that Steve Hackett is best when he blends all of his diverse influences into one unified whole, rather than focusing on one aspect at a time. Here he, again, goes into Classical music and for me this is not so rewarding as his eclectic Rock albums. There are many Classical guitarists in the world, and many Blues guitarists too, and Rock guitarists, etc. But what is so special about Steve for me is his ability to fuse different styles into something unique and exciting. This ability is put on hold whenever he decides to go into one single direction for a whole album.

One problem with A Midsummer Night's Dream is that it is very long, over an hour of pure Classical guitar. Judging each piece by itself they are mostly very nice, but listening to the whole album is a quite tedious experience. Often the momentum is lost and the album cannot stay interesting for very long. It lacks diversity and any real distinguishing features. It is certainly unfair to call this high quality Classical album a midsummer's nightmare, like I did in the headline for this review. But I could not resist this play on words.

While I prefer this album slightly over both Bay Of Kings and Momentum, I can still only recommend this album to fans and collectors of Steve Hackett and to people with a strong special interest in Classical guitar music. For fans of Prog in general, I recommend sticking to Steve's Rock side.

Review by colorofmoney91
5 stars Upon learning the name of this suite, I originally suspected that this was going to be a new-age symphonic guitar version of F. Mendelssohn's famous orchestral suite of the same name, in turn based off of the W. Shakespeare play of the same name. I, however, was very wrong. A Midsummer Night's Dream is a fantastic suite for orchestra and classical guitar that is not at all in the style of Mendelssohn. The style here is like most of Hackett's classical inspired works in that it is strongly rooted in the classical style but also with strong contemporary touches.

The music present is absolutely beautiful, and the most stand out element is the absence of the new-age synthetic orchestral sound, this time opting for an actual orchestra with real instruments; it does wonders for the music. This suite does have a strong Italian feel, which definitely isn't a bad thing considering that some of the most memorable classical works of the past few centuries are from Italian origin. Hackett plays fluidly and flawless, as does the orchestra though the touches of orchestral elements are soft for the most part.

Absolutely no problems here. A definite masterpiece.

Latest members reviews

4 stars This is the best classical music album by Steve Hackett thanks to multiple reasons: There is a perfect balance between playing of various instruments, compositional ideas, execution and sound. Playing is excellent yet restrained, very focused and not overblown. Even though many classical instru ... (read more)

Report this review (#2338861) | Posted by sgtpepper | Thursday, February 27, 2020 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Hackett seems to be be the only member having kept some GENESIS roots,( except sometimes BANKS ) i mean this classical sap in melodies and that distinctive british touch one can feel through most of his releases.This album is a specific work in witch he's but supported by the royal philharmoni ... (read more)

Report this review (#302625) | Posted by jean-marie | Thursday, October 7, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars wow this album its the first of the hackett orchestral albums. and here he plays with the royal phliharmonic orchestra. i dont see why somebody said it was uninspired mm totally wrong my friend this have a high level of inspiration. and just for mention something, steve composse all the album ... (read more)

Report this review (#36367) | Posted by bamba | Sunday, June 12, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Hackett has come full circle - all roads lead back to classical music, and progressive rock, which originally came from classical music, has now returned to its Olympian home. Steve Hackett is more than just a guitarist from Genesis - he is an truly inspired musician, and it really shows on th ... (read more)

Report this review (#26227) | Posted by EMinkovitch | Monday, March 14, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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