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Ancerl Gold Edition 16 - Prokofiev: Romeo and Juliet; Peter and the Wolf

Prokofiev / Ancerl / Czech Po
Release Date: 04/22/2003 
Label:  Supraphon   Catalog #: 3676   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Sergei Prokofiev
Conductor:  Karel Ancerl
Number of Discs: 1 
Length: 1 Hours 10 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

One of the things most critics learn early (if indeed they ever learn anything at all!) is never to call any recording “definitive”. So I won’t. The fact remains, though, that this is the best recording of music from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet yet to appear. In The Death of Tybalt and Juliet as a Young Girl it has a sheer virtuosity (particularly from the strings) that’s second to none. In the Balcony Scene and thematically related Romeo and Juliet Before Parting there’s a special, ardent lyricism and Romantic warmth that suffuses this most melodically abundant of all of Prokofiev’s scores.

But what this recording has that no other even approaches is an expressionistic emotional intensity that raises the music to the level
Read more of Shakespeare’s tragedy. In particular, The Death of Tybalt and later Romeo at Juliet’s Grave must be two of the most harrowing experiences of anything ever committed to disc. In the former, the screaming trumpets send shivers up the spine without ever lapsing into blaring vulgarity, while the latter features a grindingly slow tempo, with slashing strings, howling horns, and snarling brass. It’s an incredible testament to the technical and interpretive standards that Karel Ancerl and his Czech Philharmonic players achieved in the 1960s, and it has never been bettered.

Ancerl and his band even make their mark on Peter and the Wolf (narrated in English, by the way). Incredible flute (bird) and bassoon (grandfather) soloists, a duck that really swims in a watery orchestral accompaniment, and remarkable rhythmic accuracy throughout stamp this performance as one of the more characterful available. The tale omits the usual introduction (beginning instead with “One day, Peter opened the gate and went out into the big, green meadow.”), which is just fine with me. You may think this is for kids, but I dare any grownup to put this on and not sit completely entranced through the whole thing. Best of all, careful remastering has removed the boxy, dull patina that formerly blunted the impact of these performances, and so nothing now stands between you and an extraordinary musical experience. A great and very special disc, by any measure.

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1.
Romeo and Juliet Suite no 2, Op. 64b by Sergei Prokofiev
Conductor:  Karel Ancerl
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1936; Paris, France 
Venue:  Rudolfinum Studio, Prague, Czech Republi 
Length: 33 Minutes 29 Secs. 
2.
Romeo and Juliet, Op. 64: Act 1 - Masks by Sergei Prokofiev
Conductor:  Karel Ancerl
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1935-1936; Paris, France 
Venue:  Rudolfinum Studio, Prague, Czech Republi 
Length: 1 Minutes 52 Secs. 
3.
Romeo and Juliet Suite no 1, Op. 64a: no 6, Balcony Scene by Sergei Prokofiev
Conductor:  Karel Ancerl
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1936; Paris, France 
Venue:  Rudolfinum Studio, Prague, Czech Republi 
Length: 6 Minutes 36 Secs. 
4.
Romeo and Juliet Suite no 1, Op. 64a: no 7, Death of Tybalt by Sergei Prokofiev
Conductor:  Karel Ancerl
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1936; Paris, France 
Venue:  Rudolfinum Studio, Prague, Czech Republi 
Length: 4 Minutes 19 Secs. 
5.
Peter and the Wolf, Op. 67 by Sergei Prokofiev
Conductor:  Karel Ancerl
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1936; USSR 
Date of Recording: 02/1963 
Venue:  Rudolfinum Studio, Prague, Czech Republi 
Length: 23 Minutes 29 Secs. 

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