Based on Shakespeare’s most famous romantic play, Prokofiev’s realization of Romeo and Juliet as a full-length narrative ballet was audacious in its day. It was written during a period of artistic turmoil under a Soviet regime in which arguments raged over such fundamental aspects as the choice between a happy or tragic ending. Famous movements such as the ‘Dance of the Knights’ have helped maintain Romeo and Juliet as Prokofiev’s best-loved stage work. Marin Alsop’s acclaimed cycle of Prokofiev’s Symphonies has been described as “an outstanding achievement” by BBC Music Magazine. Alsop is an inspiring and powerful voice in the international music scene who passionately believes that “music has the power to change lives.” She is recognized across the world for her innovative programming and for her deep commitment to education and the development of audiences of all ages.
This recording is typical of Alsop’s clear-headed approach, revealing her thorough mastery of details, balanced phrasing, close attention to the orchestral sound, and fidelity to the score, which provides many challenges in its episodic structure. This first-rate performance may remind listeners of the classic complete recordings by Previn and Ozawa, and even though those recordings are still readily available, Alsop’s shows that Romeo and Juliet can still inspire a fine interpretation in the digital era, making this recording essential listening for Prokofiev fans.
– AllMusicGuide.com (B. Sanderson)