Based on Shakespeare’s most famous romantic play, Prokofiev’s realisation 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 a tragic ending. Famous movements such as the Dance of the Knights have helped maintain Romeo and Juliet as Prokofiev’s bestloved stage work. Marin Alsop’s acclaimed cycle of Prokofiev’s Symphonies has been described as ‘an outstanding achievement’ by BBC Music Magazine.
Ernest Ansermet was in the peak of his directorial power in this decade. The real effort to guide and elevate the Suisse Romande to the most famous swiss orchestra ever was made for this admirable and not yet recognized conductor. Ansermet had a special rapport for the Russian composers. In this recording we have the presence of the virtuosi violinist Ruggiero Ricci characterized with a cold temperament but gifted with a steel sound extremely adequate for this works, giving his best musical achievement of his brilliant career with both Prokoviev violin concertos.
Lorin Varencove Maazel was born of American parents in Neuilly, France on March 6, 1930 and the family returned to Los Angeles when Lorin was still an infant. He exhibited a remarkable ear and musical memory when very young; he had perfect pitch and sang back what he heard. He was taken at age five to study violin with Karl Moldrem. At age seven he started studying piano with Fanchon Armitage. When he became fascinated with conducting, his parents took him to symphony concerts, then arranged for him to have lessons with Vladimir Bakaleinikov, then assistant conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
After some 400 years, it is time to reverse the title of the world's greatest love story and to consider the plot from a fresh angle. Which is exactly what distinguished Swedish choreographer Mats Ek has done. By beginning the account from Juliet's perspective and focusing on her actions and emotions, not only are things turned upside down but it also marks a return to the source of one of the most famous plays in world literature. Juliet & Romeo is Mats Ek's first narrative ballet since 1997, and the music comprises a collection of excerpts from Tchaikovsky's well-known compositions selected by the choreographer.
Semyon Bychkov has been passionately devoted to the music of Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky since his childhood, so he clearly regards recording all of the symphonies and the major orchestral works for Decca as a labor of love. This first volume in The Tchaikovsky Project opens with Tchaikovsky's last symphony, the Symphony No. 6 in B minor, "Pathétique," and includes as filler the popular Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture, his first masterpiece.