Romeo and Juliet Ballet, Op.64:
Suite No.1, Op.64a
Suite No.2, Op.64b
Suite No.3, Op.101
Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra
Recorded June 2005 in the Grieg Hall, Bergen
Reviewed by: Colin Anderson
Reviewed: March 2007
CD No: BIS
Duration: 74 minutes
It’s a very good idea to present the three suites that Prokofiev extracted from his ballet Romeo and Juliet and play the numbers, 20 in all, in the order that they appear in the complete work. BIS’s presentation, in listing the suite and positioning of each number, would also allow the listener to programme the compilations as the composer intended. Taken as issued here we have roughly half of the score, including most, probably all, the best-known selections that, in this arrangement, follow the increasingly tragic story.
Andrew Litton conducts a well-detailed and dynamic account of the movements that the composer considered suitable for concert performance. If this isn’t the most dramatic and searing rendition of the most poignant passages, and the Bergen strings en masse lack a little body, there is some very sensitive and shapely solo playing – and there’s also no doubting the high level of preparation that the music has been subjected to or the expressive and pointed response that the Bergen musicians bring to the task.
With lucid and vivid sound – a higher than usual volume-setting brings optimum results – there is much to relish here: a more deliberate than usual ‘Montagues and Capulets’ (which allows the languorous contrasts greater integration), a thrilling ‘Death of Tybalt’ and a very moving ‘The Death of Juliet’.