A Staid Romeo and Juliet

Review by: Victor Carr Jr

Artistic Quality: 6

Sound Quality: 7

This 1994 recording is from the early years of Naxos when the label’s budget pricing for recordings of standard repertoire attracted many new classical music listeners, but the performances, often by lesser-known Eastern European orchestras, could range from first-rate to not so hot. While Andrew Mogrelia led an intermittently interesting Tchaikovsky Sleeping Beauty for this same label, his Prokofiev Romeo and Juliet falls flat, mainly due to his unimaginative and lackluster conducting. Most everything is slow and cautious, as if the orchestra were sight-reading.

Public Merrymaking comes across more like Public Quilt Making, while Tybalt sounds to have been gently beaten to death by a foam rubber sword. The Ukraine Symphony plays with admirable precision but little excitement and no discernible daring. The Balcony Scene and associated love music have so little ardor that you soon tire of it (the orchestra’s small string complement doesn’t help), which is problematic as Prokofiev repeats it quite often. The recording is somewhat cavernous, but clear and detailed. Happily, those wanting an inexpensive R&J disc don’t have to settle for this. Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony’s marvelous RCA recording is available at mid-price, and worth much more.



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Recording Details:

Reference Recording: Thomas (RCA); Järvi (Chandos)


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