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Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953)
Romeo and Juliet Op.64 (1936) - highlights
June Whitfield (narrator)
National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine/Andrew Mogrelia
Recorded (?1995 with narration in ?2004)
NAXOS 8.557675 [79.26]

If itís there in the small print I have missed it but I canít find any reference to recording dates and locations in this release other than that of the location of the narration. So I must assume that this highlights selection derives from Mogreliaís 1995 two CD set of the complete ballet originally issued on Naxos 8.553184/85. Heís no stranger to the repertoire either: he had already recorded Suites 1, 2 and 3 with the Czecho-Slovak State Philharmonic back in 1992. The difference here is the post-production inscription readings (chapter headings, plot summaries if you will) read by June Whitfield. But Peter and the Wolf these are not, nicely though she reads them and Iím at a wee bit of a loss to know exactly at whom this release could be aimed.

One thing is for sure and thatís that I like Mogreliaís way with Prokofiev. His basses are fine (The Fight) and though the strings arenít opulent and donít have much obvious bloom they come into their own when it comes to sinewy detail. The so-called Julietís Variation is wittily pointed, the Balcony Scene leisurely and relaxed, Juliet Alone quite affecting in its rather lean meat way and the Aubade graced by shapely pizzicati and a good violin solo. Maybe there could be slightly more sense of underlying threnody in the slower movements but overall Mogrelia is a thoughtful and persuasive guide.

Whether you will be attracted to a performance with narration is not a question I can answer though it may warm childrenís hearts at Christmas. I can say that it sits at the front of each separate cue so that itís impossible to edit out, should you wish to. Itís not separately banded. If you have Mogreliaís original two CD set ignore this release.

Jonathan Woolf

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