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Prokofiev: Romeo & Juliet - Scenes from the Ballet

4.4 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Audio CD, February 27, 1996
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

music from Romeo and Juliet

Amazon.com

Michael Tilson Thomas's watershed disc Romeo and Juliet: Scenes from the Ballet illustrates his conductorial strengths: rhythmic drive, dramatic thrust, fairly wide tempo variations, firm control of orchestral balances, and a questing musical vision (he's assembled his own suite rather than use the standard versions). It also confirms his affinity for Russian music--he obviously relishes Prokofiev's folk-inspired tunes. There's a welcome touch of volatility, too; faster sections have a propulsive forward motion, with an explosive quality to scenes like the snappy "Folk Dance" and the fight music. The conception is symphonic--it might be hard for dancers to sustain the slow tempos imposed on some scenes--and the orchestra, aside from a hint of leanness in the strings, plays superbly. Lavishly lush sonics. A feast for the ears. --Dan Davis
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Product Details

  • Orchestra: San Francisco Symphony
  • Conductor: Michael Tilson Thomas
  • Composer: Sergei Prokofiev
  • Audio CD (February 27, 1996)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: RCA Legacy
  • Run Time: 78 minutes
  • ASIN: B000003FYG
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #339,042 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By C. Noble on January 17, 2000
Format: Audio CD
This relatively new release from BMG/RCA is a CD that you simply MUST buy. Run, don't walk, to the order button here at Amazon.com and buy this one! The packaging is bit over the top, I'll grant you that, but this is one serious release of one of Prokofiev's most beloved scores. Instead of playing an amalgomation of one or both of the suites which Prokofiev extracted from the complete score, MTT has created his own 'suite' from scratch. Many scenes from the ballet which are not included in the two original suites are heard here - and to great effect - one more reason to buy. The recorded sound is nothing less than spectacular. There is amazing detail and sonic placement on the aural soundstage. Last, and certainly not least, is the beyond world-class playing of the San Francisco Symphony and the superb musical leadership of Michael Tilson Thomas. This orchestra (in case you haven't heard them lately) is the envy of any city in the world (yes even Berlin and Vienna, in certain repertoire). The brass are bold and incisive, with an especially powerful (yet tasteful) low brass section. The strings are incandescent in the Death of Juliet, and swashbuckling and fleet in the Death of Tybalt. This all adds up to a recording which can't be missed, and shouldn't be passed up.
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Format: Audio CD
At 78 min., this is much more generous than other collections that pair Prokofiev's two Suites from Romeo and Juliet. The angry reviewer below is mistaken to accuse Tilson Thomas of composing any transitions of his own devising--he only placed portions of the ballet in dramatic sequence (Prokofiev's suites are in no particular order). This was MTT's first recording with RCA as music director in San Francisco, and when it was released in 1996, the U.S. reviews were rapturous.

Not so the British. The Gramophone grumbled about 'slick efficiency' and 'stickiness.' I think that's not true. The only problems that keep this recording from the highest rank, as far as my ears tell me, are first, the recorded sound. Though wide-ranging and dynamic, the original release tended to be coarse and thuddy (I don't own the reissue at mid-price, but perhaps something has been done to correct this).

The second and more important reservation isn't MTT's fault. Great conductors have already preceded him. Ancerl, Mravinsky, and Mitropoulos are among the old maestros who made outstanding versions of excerpts from the ballet. Among moderns we have had sonic blockbusters from Salonen and Abbado, both of whom dig into the score as MTT does not, and both of whom benefit from the astounding viruosity of the Berlin Phil. As for the complete ballet, versions by Lorin Maazel with the Cleveland Orch. on Decca and Gergiev with the Kirov Orch. on Philips stand out. MTT has a lighter touch than all of the above, which isn't necessarily a bad thing--his avoidance of shmaltz is admirable to me.

In fact, there are stretches here that sound just as good as the best. I can see why other listeners give this recording five stars; in light of so many great ones, I settled for four.
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Format: Audio CD
Michael Tilson Thomas is truly one of the great living conductors. The things he has been doing with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra for a decade now have been wonderful. This is one of the conductor's earliest collaborations with RCA Victor in selections from Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet. Although other reviews have summed up most of my feelings on this CD, I do just want to emphasize MTT's musical vision in creating his own suite. The performance is incisive, dramatic, forceful, and thoroughly pleasing. As always, the SFSO plays with totally conviction and total faith in their music director. As one of the leading Russian experts of today, MTT has created here a fantastic disc.
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Format: Audio CD
I was so thrilled to find a more complete recording of Romeo & Juliet; I wanted more than the usual Suite. The selections are perfect -- comprehensive & varied. Young Juliet, Young Romeo, and Nurse are real Prokofiev treats, and the Danse with Mandolins is just wonderful. Interpretation is flawless. The sweeping waves of the final love scene move me every time -- thank you gorgeous trombones! Thank you Mr. Thomas!
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Format: Audio CD
I'll try to be more brief than I was with my last review of Mahler 1, but there are so many things to write about! I'll sum it up: Power, beauty, intense emotion and involvement in the music, and the most tastefully dramatic R+J recording out there. The strings are tight at the prestos, the woodwinds dance right of the CD, the interchanging trumpet and clarinet lines in the Dance of the Madalins are seemless, the horns are impossibly big and bold, bolder than the horns of the old CSO days (which, to me seemed more crass than anything), and the low brass, with the fantastic three and Floydd Cooley play all their lines just right and with some flaming sword of power. MTT's baton stirs the savage beast yet again! This CD is one of my top 10 CDs I own in my Classical collection and I highly recommend it to condutors, performers, and those who are interested in classical music and those who use it as ambiance (though it will be hard not to listen to this work!)!
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