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 best-loved stage work. Marin Alsop’s acclaimed cycle of Prokofiev’s Symphonies has been described as ‘an outstanding achievement’ by BBC Music Magazine.
“I first came to know Prokofiev’s brilliant score to Romeo and Juliet as a violinist and longed to conduct it from that very first moment hearing saxophone in the orchestra for the first time blew me away. Prokofiev’s incredible orchestration – his ingenious thematic invention and his passionate portrayal of this profoundly timeless story make this score stand out in the firmament.
Recording this work with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra was very inspiring. They are an orchestra of passionate, engaged, dynamic musicians and their extraordinary musicianship brings this score to vivid life!” -Marin Alsop
"Alsop follows her Naxos cycle of Prokofiev’s symphonies in Sao Paulo with this beautifully played account of the complete Romeo and Juliet ballet from Baltimore. She underlines the affinities of Prokofiev’s masterly scoring and melodic memorability with those of her mentor, Leonard Bernstein. It’s an account of high drama — as the thrilling Quarrel and Battle sequences demonstrate — and rapturous lyrical qualities in the haunting portraits of the lovers and their balcony scene." Read more from The Times
"The way this score conveys the anguish, the brutality, the violence, the passion, the love. The way he's able to capture the narrative of Shakespeare's tale really moves me in a very deep way and of course having that connection to having played it when I was a young musician makes it even more special." Read more from Classical MPR
"A graceful pulling of focus between the ballet’s big set-pieces and moments of romance and tragedy makes for compelling listening while managing to be both sweepingly grand and searingly intimate. Above all, it brims with character and emotion, the Baltimore strings, woodwinds, brass and percussion each making standout contributions, noticeably so in the satisfying muscular menace lent to the testosterone-charge of ‘Dance of the Knights’, the delightful, carnival burlesque that lights up the ‘Dance with Mandolins’ and the baleful, sour-sweet beauty of ‘Juliet’s Funeral’." Read more from Primephonic
"Marin Alsop offers a kind of postscript to her Prokofiev symphony cycle for Naxos with a new recording of the complete ballet music for Romeo and Juliet, and for it she’s in charge of her other orchestra, the Baltimore Symphony, beautifully recorded." Read more from Gramophone