Aureole etc.




Nimbus on-line




If it’s the Czech works you’re after, do not hesitate

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

REVIEW


Some items
to consider

 


Enjoy the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra wherever you are. App available for iOS and Android

Lyrita 4CDs £16 incl.postage

Lyrita 4CDs £16 incl.postage


Decca Phase 4 - 40CDs


Judith Bailey, George Lloyd


BAX Orchestral pieces


CASKEN Violin Concerto

Schumann Symphonies Rattle


Complete Brahms
Bargain price

 

alternatively
CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS

 

 

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953)
Romeo and Juliet (1938)
Manuel Legris - Romeo; Moniques Loudières - Juliet; Lionel Delanöe - Mercutio; Charles Jude - Tybalt; Wilfried Romoli - Benvolio
Paris Opera Ballet/Vello Pähn
rec. Opéra Bastille, Paris, July 1995
Choreography and Staging: Rudolf Nureyev
Sound Format LPCM Stereo, DD 5.1 Surround; Picture Format: 16:9
WARNER CLASSICS BLU RAY 50-51865-5575-2-4 [149:00]

Experience Classicsonline

 
This is the most coherent and absorbing ballet production I have seen in a long time. Romeo and Juliet may be amongst the most performed of all 20th century ballets but it rarely comes across with this level of impact. Over and over again during the viewing of this excellent disc I kept thinking: at last a production that comes up to the standard of Prokofiev's great score!
 
The film opens at the front of the Paris Opera and after some irrelevant public scenes and street sounds we are taken into the auditorium and become part of the audience on 12 August 1995. Even the five-channel surround sound manages to place us in front of the stage, indeed at times in the orchestra pit, with the majority of the audience audibly behind us but not too audible I am glad to say. In this audience no one is noisily unwrapping sweets or explaining the plot to their small daughters as is the way in my local theatre.
 
There are some production details to address. The top menu is accompanied by a closed loop of Prokofiev's music, a very annoying, but sadly typical, ploy by producers of such discs. Please will they give us silence. The performers' credits are run against the introduction to Act 1 which is a nice touch. I confess to having never heard of any of these dancers. Entirely my loss because the principals are magnificent (see below) and no one involved is less than top class. The sound is very satisfactory in both CD standard stereo or Dolby Digital 5.1. A pity there is no use of the HD sound systems available on Blu Ray because the Paris Opera Orchestra gives a superb performance of the score under the direction of Vello Pähn, so good one could just listen. The high definition picture quality, derived from the European Union 16:9 project of the 1990s, is not up to current standards of sharpness but certainly looks clean and clear even in the darker scenes. Camera work is unobtrusive with the emphasis on the dancing and a moderate use of close-ups for facial expressions where needed. Only in one scene is the viewer aware of sweaty dancers. Finally one must note that this is headlined on the packaging as "Rudolf Nureyev's Romeo and Juliet". He is not in it, indeed he had been dead two years when this was performed, but it is his famous reworking of the ballet for the Paris Opera of 1984. The liner-notes give a short paragraph about it.
 
The opening shows a funeral cart crossing the stage followed by hooded figures. It sets the scene for a seriously dramatic evening. Even the women of the two families get involved in the brawling at the start. There is a lot of excellent stage business during the ballet; both comedy and tragedy is reflected in countless vignettes. The lovers' first scene is very beautiful. The interplay between Mercutio, Benvolio and the Nurse is cleverly handled; in fact the nurse herself is much handled too! The death of Mercutio is one of several coups de théâtres in this production. At first the crowd believes him to be play-acting and even gives him a round of applause as he finally collapses and dies! The impact when they realise he really is dead is thus heightened. The death of Tybalt seemed to me to be underplayed and this was perhaps the one moment when the tension flagged - even the tempo of the music dropped back too far. The start of Act 3 shows Juliet dancing with an embodiment of death, very effective. After a beautiful final love scene and Romeo's departure Juliet has to face the parental demand to marry Paris. Her distraught reaction is magnificent theatre. Principal Dancer Monique Loudières is very fine here and really never lets the tension go through to the tragic ending. She is shown dancing with the dead Mercutio and Tybalt implying that she too will be joining them only too soon. The choreography and staging reaches even greater intensity and matches the increasingly sinister music of this final act. Prokofiev's fabulous score is well matched. The whole scene of Juliet's supposed death is masterly. The full corps de ballet is involved in a ghostly dance which emphasises the grim situation. Romeo dances with Juliet's lifeless body, so he believes, in a moment both affecting and macabre.
 
I have left till last my comment on Monique Loudières who must have been dancing her farewell season because she retired from the stage the following year to become a teacher of the next generation of French dancers. Mme Loudières is simply magnificent from the girlish playfulness of her flirtation in Act 1 to the moment of high tragedy when she discovers Romeo's body. As I said at the start, everyone is excellent, but she left even this seasoned reviewer with a tear in his eye.
 
An essential purchase for all lovers of ballet, music and fine theatre.
 

Dave Billinge
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 


Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Hyperion

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Alto
Arcodiva
Atoll
CDAccord
Cameo Classics
Centaur
Hallé
Hortus
Lyrita
Nimbus
Northern Flowers
Redcliffe
Sheva
Talent
Toccata Classics


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample
 


EXPLORE MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews

 

Discographies
   Composer
      Composer surveys
   National
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
.
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

Interviews
With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site

Nostalgia

Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Comment
Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure

Announcements

 

Community
Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Reviewers
Pat and present

Helpers invited!

Resources
How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips


Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Publishers
Other links
Newsgroups
Web News sites etc

PotPourri
A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Questionnaire    
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Dictionary
Magazines
Newsfeed  
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools




Return to Review 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.