As is widely known, ballet suites are the ‘little sisters’ of large ballet compositions that have been compiled by the composer mostly at a later date for performance in the concert hall. Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet” is another story however. Strangely enough, his two Suites were given their first performance before the premiere of the complete Ballet. The applause can still be heard echoing through the world of music. This music is one of the pillars of a good record collection – and with good reason! Both Suites contain a wealth of delightful melodies that are given substance by colourful harmonic writing. Just how Prokofiev can ideally sound is brought to us by Stanislaw Skrowacziewski and the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra. In the first Suite he lets his musicians sweep with élan through the Burlesque, the splendour of the Love Theme is full of lyrical intensity, and rises to a forceful climax filled with sharp dissonances in “Death of Tybalt”.
The Second Suite, too, is of the very highest standard, both from an artistic and recording point of view. The characteristic themes and motifs are well contoured and brought to the fore while embedded in a fresh and natural carpet of sound which is sometimes filled with immense warmth.
It is clearly noticeable that all participants have given much time and thought to this first-rate production. And the listener will certainly enjoy giving over a good portion of his leisure time to this delightful music.