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Prokofiev: Romeo & Juliet CD

4.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (14 Nov. 2011)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Decca (UMO)
  • ASIN: B005OPNYBS
  • Other Editions: Audio CD
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 36,564 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. 1. Introduction
  2. 2. Romeo
  3. 3. The street wakens
  4. 4. Morning dance
  5. 5. The quarrel
  6. 6. The fight
  7. 7. The duke's command
  8. 8. Interlude
  9. 9. At the Capulets' (Preparations for the ball)
  10. 10. The young Juliet
  11. 11. Arrival of the guests
  12. 12. Masks
  13. 13. Dance of the knights
  14. 14. Juliet's variation
  15. 15. Mercutio
  16. 16. Madrigal
  17. 17. Tybalt recognizes Romeo
  18. 18. Gavotte
  19. 19. Balcony scene
  20. 20. Romeo's variation
  21. 21. Love dance
  22. 22. Folk dance
  23. 23. Romeo and Mercutio
  24. 24. Dance of the five couples
  25. 25. Dance with mandolins
  26. 26. Nurse
  27. 27. The nurse and Romeo

Disc: 2

  1. 28. Romeo at friar Laurence's
  2. 29. Juliet at friar Laurence's
  3. 30. Public merrymaking
  4. 31. Further public festivities
  5. 32. Meeting of Tybalt and Mercutio
  6. 33. The duel
  7. 34. Death of Mercutio
  8. 35. Romeo decides to avenge Mercutio
  9. 36. Finale
  10. 37. Introduction
  11. 38. Romeo and Juliet
  12. 39. Romeo bids Juliet farewell
  13. 40. Nurse
  14. 41. Juliet refuses to marry Paris
  15. 42. Juliet alone
  16. 43. Interlude
  17. 44. At friar Laurence's cell
  18. 45. Interlude
  19. 46. Juliet's room
  20. 47. Juliet alone
  21. 48. Aubade
  22. 49. Dance of the girls with lilies
  23. 50. At Juliet's bedside
  24. 51. Juliet's funeral
  25. 52. Juliet's death

Product Description

ASHKENAZY VLADIMIR / ROYAL P.

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
This splendid recording from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Ashkenazy was set to disc in 1991. Very strange that Decca didn't release it until 2003. This complete ballet features crisp, articulate and highly rhythmic playing from the RPO. Ashkenazy has a natural affinity for this music, there is real Russian feeling, not just clipped and loud show storming through the tunes. This is certainly preferable to Maazel and the Cleveland Orchestra also on Decca and now leads the field for s modern digital set. A highly detailed recording made in the Walthamstow town hall, resonant in the right places and well up to the high standards one expects from recording engineer Colin Moorfoot and producer Andrew Cornall. Highly commended.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Having lived with the Maazel interpretation for some years, this music was different and much appreciated. It is more relaxed and allows the music to expand, preferable to biting and incisive music in a ballet. There is nothing second grade about the Royal PO and Ashkenazy does not hold them back from presenting musical climaxes that emphasise Prokofiev's colour and contrast in the score. The music bounces along - music for pleasure rather than critical study.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
If you're buying this sort of CD, check when it was recorded, or you might find it was re-mastered fairly recently, but you have an ancient recording, which can be a disappointment. That is not the case with this recording. Having just seen the ballet live, it was well up-to-scratch and sounded good on reasonably high quality domestic sound system.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Bought as a present for someone else. I don't like it - but they do!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x8e27a528) out of 5 stars 6 reviews
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8e2b50c0) out of 5 stars A new first choice account of Prokofiev's enchanting ballet 11 May 2005
By cwbflute - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
What a fantastic DIGITAL recording of Prokofiev's masterpiece! This is probably my favorite ballet, and so I have collected (too) many recordings trying to find the perfect one. Previn's London Symphony and Maazel's Cleveland Orchestra recordings are both admirable, but Ashkenazy's account with the Royal Philharmonic rises to the top of my list.

Ashkenazy succeeds in bringing out Prokofiev's jaunty rhythms and captures the deep passion and romance that these young "star-crossed" lovers experienced for one another. The tempos seem appropriate throughout. Ashkenazy's tempo changes in the "Love Dance" caught me a bit off guard at first, but after listening a few times they made sense (I can't remember what the score calls for there). This account, more than any other that I've heard, summons the image of dancers on stage. (For a more symphonic approach, look to Previn's recording.)

The Royal Philharmonic is simply superb. My biggest complaint with most other recordings of this ballet (including Previn's) is that the violins are so often out-of-tune. The intonation here, however, is simply impeccable. The strings play warmly and with precision (see, especially, "Romeo Decides to Avenge Mercutio"), and the first violins are simply amazing in the "Balcony Scene." The woodwind solos are beautifully played throughout (the flute solos are much clearer and better supported than those in Maazel's recording, and the oboe solos are darker and warmer than those in both Maazel's and Previn's orchestras). The brass section is fantastic in all three recordings, but balance notably well here.

The digital recording gives Ashkenazy an advantage over Maazel and Previn. The sound is crystal clear, which allows one to appreciate Prokofiev's unique orchestration techniques, such as his use of soaring violin harmonics and haunting low-register piccolo. The transparency of sound also allows one to hear details such as interesting woodwind doubling and middle horn parts much more clearly.

Overall, I would recommend this recording above all others. There are very few moments that aren't flawless, the orchestra is virtuosic, the sound is fantastic, and the full spectrum of emotions that this story evokes is exploited to the fullest. Of course owning other recordings, especially Maazel's and Previn's, is essential for the truly committed fan of this work, but if you plan to have only one recording, this should be your one.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8e2b54c8) out of 5 stars Go figure! 29 Nov. 2004
By Good Stuff - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I will never understand the logic that would lead a recording company to spend a vast amount of money on a recording project, and one that turns out to be outstandingly successful, only to let the end result languish unreleased for a dozen years. What do they think it is, a rare Cabernet Sauvignon?

Hint to the recording companies: If it's good, which this certainly is, it won't get better by letting it age in the vault. It ain't wine.

That said, this is simply a marvelous recording. Obviously, it is not alone in the catalog. But it does move to the top. I'm old enough to remember regretting it when Ashkenazy began moving into conducting, purely for the selfish reason that I didn't want him to spare a single moment away from the keyboard for other disciplines.

I was wrong.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8e2b5540) out of 5 stars A Fine Account, Splendid Sound 14 April 2004
By F. Adcock - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
At last, a digital recording of "Romeo and Juliet" to stand alongside the great analog accounts by Andre Previn and Lorin Maazel. I would have no problem recommending this new one by Vladimir Ashkenazy, for the sound is absolutely state-of-the-art, with fine detail within a pleasing hall ambience.
Although I rate this with 5 stars, it is not the last word, as far as I am concerned, for both Previn and Maazel speak volumns on their respective recordings. Ashkenazy is actually closer to Previn in choice of speeds, even using slower tempi in some dances when compared to Previn. Maazel wins the speed race, and his sound brings to mind microphones on each music stand. With Ashkenazy, the brass, especially the trombones and horns, seem to move in and out within the orchestral structure, and I would love to have heard more gutsy trombone entries in some of the duelling music. Previn is my choice in the passionate romantic music, for Ashkenazy's interpretations in this area are a little too square for my taste, although he delivers an exquisite Epilogue. The street music has never sounded so vivacious. The Royal Philharmonic is a bit better than their two competitors in the discipline department, though not by much.
All three of these recordings do justice to the dramatic moments in the score, and each, in its own way, should be in most collections. There is absolutely no reason to pass on this fine recording, especally if digital sound is a must.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8e2b58d0) out of 5 stars You can't do better for a complete Romeo and Juliet 27 Jan. 2012
By dv_forever - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Other reviewers have mentioned that listeners have been spoiled for choice on CD when it comes to this celebrated ballet. I nominate Ashkenazy for first choice among the complete scores. His main rivals are Previn with the LSO on EMI, Maazel with Cleveland on Decca and Gergiev with Kirov on Philips as well as live in concert with the LSO. All are very handsomely presented, beautifully played and the sound quality good across the board, especially with this Ashkenazy set which makes it a standout for me.

Decca gives it the kind of sumptuousness and impact that made this record company the premiere outfit for the early digital era and beyond. This Romeo was actually done closer to the end of the 1990s and therefore near the point of collapse for the famed Decca sound. All the big labels made huge cuts, massive layoffs and terminated the contracts of dozens of major conductors and performers at the time. Ashkenazy's Romeo and Juliet was lost in the fray and did not get a release for years, partly because Decca already had the famous Maazel Romeo with Cleveland in their catalogue since the 1970s.

I've never cared for Maazel's treatment of the score. For sure the Cleveland orchestra is a great instrument and scores over Ashkenazy's Royal Philharmonic, but Maazel's view lacks the splendor and romanticism of the music. He's all clarity and brilliance. Prokofiev's score calls for a lot of warmth and feeling from a conductor and Ashkenazy has that in spades. His scene on the balcony is just that much more involved while all the famous loud bits benefit from the bass and weight that the Decca engineers provided.

There are many outstanding collections of excerpts from this ballet as well, with the two most prominent being Salonen and Abbado, both with the heavy hitting Berlin Philharmonic. Both conductors let the orchestra speak for itself without much interpretative point making. Salonen is especially modern in that sense. A lot of people including myself enjoy sections of this ballet instead of the full wallow, so I would point listeners to those Berlin CDs. For the complete score, you can't do better than Ashkenazy on Decca. It's a sleeper, but possibly the best around.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8e2b5900) out of 5 stars First choice for sound, and quite good for conducting 12 Jan. 2008
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Ashkenazy is a pet conductor of Decca's and has been for three decades or more, even though his recordings don't make much of an impression outside Britain, I imagine. He has sound, fi conservative musical instincts, like his friend and equal, Andre Previn, whose repertoire often overlaps Ashkenazy's. In this case, both have made reliable versions of Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet ballet. Previn has the better orchestra in the LSO, but Ashkenazy has far better sound -- it's easy, detailed, and lush.

I don't hear quite the exceptional qualities that the other reviewers have found here. (Sampling the Balcony Scene, for example, there's a lack of mystery, and Ashkenazy seems impatient to get through the opening moments that set the night atmosphere.) We're spoiled for choice with Romeo and Juliet. There are sizzling accounts of the two suites from Abbado and Salonen, both leading the stupendous Berlin Phil., and a profound one of Suite #2 from Mravinsky. The complete ballet has been authoritatively conducted by Gergiev and his Kirov Orchestra (if only Philips had given them more vivid sound). Decca has a virtuosic one with Maazel and the Cleveland Orch. that the Royal Phil. can't compete with.

But Ashkenazy is in good form, and he does supply some thrills and spills along the way, making his version one of the most viscerally riveting when coupled to Decca's state-of-the-art digital sound. Without soaring to the heights, it's very recommendable.
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