Music with Ease > Classical Music > Concert Guide: Romantic Era > Overture to "Fingal's Cave". Op. 26. (Mendelssohn)
Overture to "Fingal's Cave". Op. 26.
This overture is called in Mendelssohns letters alternately "The Hebrides" and "The Solitary Island," and the name "Fingals Cave" is prefixed to the published score, while that of "Hebrides" is on the orchestral parts. It reflects the impressions made on Mendelssohn by a journey to the Western Highlands.
The overture is written in regular form and opens with a theme in violas, cellos, and bassoons, which occurred to Mendelssohn while in the cave, depicting the loneliness of the spot. The second theme, a beautiful Cantabile, pictures the movement of the sea, accompanied by a peculiar wavelike effect in the violins. The elaboration of this theme is an extremely vivid and poetical description of the cries of the seabirds, the wail of the wind, and the gradual lashing of the ocean into fury. As it subsides, the first subject returns again, and the effect of solitude is once more felt. This is followed by the free development and extension of the second theme. After recapitulation of this material, a short but very brilliant Coda brings this highly colored tone-picture of the solitude of the sea and the cave, as well as of the rage of the ocean, to a close. Its sentiment is sombre, even melancholy.