17 of 23 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Prokofiev: Romeo & Juliet (LSO / Gergiev) (Audio CD)
Composing music for ballet often seems to bring out the best in composers, especially Prokofiev. His symphonies and operas are rewarding but require serious listening. Romeo and Juliet however is a work of creative genius, packed with some of the most recognisable and appealing music ever written for orchestra. Every time you hear it, you come across a new detail or melody. Perhaps it is down to the subject, one of Shakespeare's simplest yet most emotive storylines. Whereas most composers have struggled to adapt the bard's works for opera, Prokofiev revels in composing music for dancers.
Not that you can imagine many ballet dancers being happy to perform with Valery Gergiev conducting a performance like this. In places it is too fast for dancing, in others too slow, but it is all the better for it! With a performance like this, you don't need people on stage to tell the story. I doubt whether I would cry at the tragic ending if I were watching the ballet in a theatre, but I felt tears welling up in my eyes listening to this.
I own two other versions (Previn and Maazel) but both are old and whilst good performances, I've no need for them now. This album makes both sound lifeless and sonically it is far superior, crucially with a much wider dynamic range.
If anybody thinks classical music is boring, I would strongly urge them to listen to this recording. Valery Gergiev may be crazy, but he's a crazy genius.