Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Prokofiev - Dimitri Mitropoulos, New York Philharmonic ‎– Romeo And Juliet

This is my post from this week's Tuesday Blog.

As the All Music Guide says it:

In the early- and mid- twentieth century, the three major Tchaikovsky ballets -- Swan LakeThe Sleeping Beauty, and The Nutcracker -- were viewed as the three greatest full-length ballets. Not surprisingly, they were also more popular by wide margins than all other works in the genre. By the latter quarter of the century, however, Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet had entered the trio's select company and remains exceedingly popular today. [... It] is one of Prokofiev's supreme masterpieces and, via the three suites extracted from it, among his most often-played music.
Indeed, and I think I mentioned it in a post before, R & J was milked for all its worth - three orchestral suites and a set of 10 pieces for piano resulted from this great 4 act ballet. 

As we discussed a few weeks back in the case of Grieg's Peer Gynt, it is not uncommon for conductors to "mix and match" selections from the suites to form their own, and this is exactly what Dimitri Mitropoulos did for this one of his few stereo recordings with the New York Philharmonic, which he led first as co-conductor with Leopold Stokowski and became the sole music director in 1951, succeeded as the Philharmonic's conductor by a protégé, Leonard Bernstein. 

In addition to his orchestral career, Mitropoulos was an equally important force in the operatic repertoire. From 1954 until his death in 1960, he was the principal conductor of the Metropolitan Opera in New York as well as the Philharmonic's Music Director (although the Met did not officially use that title at the time.), probably the only man to have don so since Gustav Mahler.

Mitropoulos was noted as a champion of modern music, and his Prokofiev is full of colour and rich in dynamics. These readings stand out, and stand well the test of time.

Happy listening!

Sergey PROKOFIEV (1891-1953)
Romeo and Juliet (Ромео и Джульетта), Op. 64
Selections from suites op. 64bis & ter
1. The Montagues And Capulets Suite 2 N°1
2. Juliet The Little Girl Suite 2 N°2
3. Folk Dance Suite 1 N°1
4. Romeo And Mercutio Masked Suite 1 N°5
5. Balcony Scene Suite 1 N°6
6. Death Of Tybalt Suite 1 N°7
7. Romeo And Juliet Before Parking Suite 2 N°5
8. Friar Laurence Suite 2 N°3
9. Romeo At Juliet's Tomb Suite 2 N°7
New York Philharmonic Orchestra
Dimitri Mitropoulos, conducting
Masterworks Portrait ‎– MP 38772
Format: Vinyl, LP, Stereo
Studio, 1958

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