LSO: Romeo and Juliet

Prokofiev, Conducted by Valery Gergiev

Jan 2010

A passionate, daring take on a classic


When Valery Gergiev guided the LSO through Prokofiev’s ballet in 2008 the combination of performance and sound moved the goalposts.

The essence of the LSO Live label is to put out passionate, even daring takes on too-familiar classical pieces – all of it recorded at the highest quality possible.

On Romeo and Juliet there’s a beautiful delicacy as each part of Act I unfolds. The string and brass sections race in Parts V and VI when the jittery lovers quarrel – but then flit like a ripple on a pond when the sweet young Juliet beguiles all around her.

In Dance Of The Knights (used in The Apprentice) strutting strings slash and pull with palatable glee. Delicacy returns with the gentle flute of Juliet’s Variation – countered by the playfulness of Mercutio. The love of sonnets exudes from the string section soloists as they play the Balcony Scene culminating in the orchestra lifting the ceiling for Romeo And Juliet’s Love Dance.

Act II opens with a joyous folk dance where the percussion and brass sections join with the orchestra in some ET flying moments. Dance With Violins beautifully captures the virtuosity of these world-class musicians – before they deliver the sadness of Romeo at Friar Laurence’s. In Act III the lovers find solace in each other’s arms in Romeo and Juliet – but after she refuses to marry Paris she is left alone – the music sensing something ominous to come. It culminates in a violin lament that will end in tears.