June 2002 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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Romeo & Juliet World Premiere Digital Recording of the Complete Film Score  
  The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus conducted by Nic Raine
  SILVA SCREEN FILMCD 358   [55:18]

Romeo and Juliet

Nino Rota's achingly beautiful score for Zeffirelli's inspired production of Shakespeare's immortal love story is lovingly captured on this album, one of Silva Screen's most appealing and significant productions.

Rota’s touching music is respectful of character and period The opening ‘Prologue’ is wistful in mood before imposing fanfares, echoing across the sound stage, proclaim the entrance of the Prince of Verona. The early scenes are enlivened by a series of elegant and courtly pavanes, sarabandes and a morseca (saltarello) - a wild and abandoned dance performed in costumes festooned with bells. The initial music for Romeo, prior to his meeting with Juliet, is dreamy and introspective appropriate to his character, while the motif for Juliet implies youth and purity. The well-known love theme is tentatively introduced at their first meeting. It is then sung, to lyrics by Eugene Walter, by Luke Bateman, and developed in growing intensity through the balcony scene and elsewhere until it is proclaimed in full glory in the Epilogue celebrating the lovers sacrifice and perhaps a reconciliation between the Montagues and Capulets. A choir boy sings an ‘Ave Maris Stella’ in celebration of Romeo and Juliet’s wedding (actually the boy-soprano like voice of Anna Polakova) and this is also sung later by the chorus in ‘The Likeness of Death’ as Juliet imbibes the draft that will give her the semblance of death. Darker material, forceful and potently dramatic, underscores the violence and final scenes of the lovers’ tragic deaths.

The booklet includes a description of Shakespeare's plot, notes about Zeffirelli's film, generally recognised as the best film version of the Bard's play, and about this new reconstruction, painstakingly assembled from studies of the film and original soundtrack album, by Mike Townend. There is also an introductory note by the composer's daughter, Nina Rota.

Ian Lace


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