One of the most grown-up review sites around
One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here


International mailing

Up to 40% off

  Founder: Len Mullenger


Crotchet   AmazonUK   AmazonUS

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953)
Romeo and Juliet - scenes from the ballet - suite arranged by Michael Tilson Thomas (1936) [78.10]
San Francisco Symphony Orchestra/Michael Tilson Thomas
rec. Sept 1995, San Francisco. DDD
BMG RCA RED SEAL 82876 59424 2 [78:10]

This recording was set down a fortnight after Tilson Thomas's inaugural concert with the SFSO. It makes for an outstanding representation of the ballet for collectors who would rather have a very generous sampling (29 tracks) instead of the whole thing.

MTT has a great feeling for aggressive movement without scouting over emotional messages. The upward-floating moonlight of Balcony Scene (tr. 15) is portrayed in breathtaking tenderness. This is not an isolated instance either; try Madrigal (tr. 13) and 'Romeo And Juliet' (tr. 24).

The spurs are applied in the pummelling wave-beat of Interlude at 26 as the brass tier call out in indomitably stentorian tones. The recording quality is exceptional with The Quarrel (tr. 4) a good demonstration track. Its antiphonal effects, darting backwards and forwards, are memorable. Delicacy is on call as well with the orchestra’s account of Juliet’s speeding tiptoes likely to impress even the most stolid listener. The spatial sense is well conveyed with the brass dazzlingly caught over a wide soundstage as in the Introduction to Act III.

The success of the score depends also on the ability to juxtapose cordite and peaches. This is unflinchingly captured in ‘The Duke’s Command’ (tr. 6). The paranoia inherent in the ‘Mandolin Dance’ is caught with a manic wildness as never before not even by Rozhdestvensky or Algis Zuraitis (both complete sets); the latter well worth tracking down on CFP provided you are not allergic to the Soviet performing tradition.

The music goes for little unless there is blaze and blare in ‘The Death of Tybalt’ and that it gets though the effect is not quite as monumental as it can be. A healthy string glow is in evidence throughout: neither over-plush nor starveling. This is exemplified in ‘Juliet's Death’ where, even at high pressure, the strings keep their lustre and yield rather than taking on an iron harshness.

The conductor is to be congratulated for ending what amounts to an extended Romeo and Juliet ‘symphony’ in such repose rather than in clamour.

Rob Barnett

We are currently offering in excess of 50,400 reviews

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Senior Editor
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

Return to Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.