Skrowaczewski: Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra – Prokofiev: Romeo and Juliet – Ballet Suites Nos. 1 & 2 (Mercury Living Presence / Speakers Corner, 180g pressing)


# Composer: Sergei Prokofiev
# Orchestra: Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra
# Conductor: Stanisław Skrowaczewski
# Vinyl (1965 / 2004)
# Number of Discs: 1
# Format: Flac
# DR Analysis: DR 12
# Label: Mercury Living Presence / Speakers Corner
# Size: 1.12GB (24/96) + 288MB (16/44.1)
# Recovery: 5%
# Scan: yes
# Server: RS, FF

From the Speakers Corner website:

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 colorful 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 splendor 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


Skrowaczewski’s version of Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet ballet suites is one of the very best things he has recorded. The LP made an extremely strong impression when it first appeared here in 1965, although the recording was actually made in 1962, after Dorati had brought the Minneapolis orchestra to a high peak of achievement. The playing is often electrifying in its precision and delicacy—witness the very opening filigree on the high violins in the ”Folk Dance” of Suite No. 1 or the delectably precise articulation of the portrayal of Mercutio which follows. Skrowaczewski’s subtlety of rubato, both in the latter (track 2) and the wonderfully delicate ”Madrigal” which follows (when Romeo first approaches Juliet), is equally memorable for the wistful character of the orchestral playing.

The ”Balcony scene” with its gently soaring string line is ravishingly done, and then in the ”Death of Tybalt” there is a frenzied burst of sheer bravura from the violins, with exhilaratingly sharp articulation that makes the nape of the neck tingle. Prokofiev did not strictly follow the narrative line in the order of his selections and so ”Juliet as a young girl” comes in Suite No. 2. It again brings playing which combines a gossamer touch with unpretentious virtuosity of the highest order, while at the closing climax of ”Romeo at Juliet’s grave” the music’s pungent agony and sense of apotheosis is powerfully expressed (the bite of the violin line well matched by the turbulent horns and mordant brass).

The acoustics of Northrop Memorial Auditorium in Minneapolis and the refined clarity of the recording seem ideal for Prokofiev’s scoring: the effect is never too voluptuous, and the bigger climaxes are projected with great dramatic force. There are other fine modern selections from what, in my view, is Prokofiev’s greatest score and, perhaps, the greatest of all ballets, but none which captures its unique atmosphere and character more tellingly. There are excellent notes relating the music to the action, and which appealingly quote from the Shakespearean text to set the mood of the major excerpts. – Ivan March, Gramophone [3/1991]

Track List:

Side One – Romeo And Juliet, Suite No. 1
01 – Folk Dance
02 – Scene
03 – Madrigal
04 – Minuet
05 – Masks
06 – Romeo And Juliet
07 – Death Of Tybalt

Side Two – Romeo And Juliet, Suite No. 2
08 – The Montagues And The Capulets
09 – Juliet – The Little Girl
10 – Dance
11 – Romeo And Juliet Before Parting
12 – Dance Of The Antilles Maidens
13 – Romeo And Juliet’s Tomb

Recorded in April 1962 at Northrop Memorial Auditorium, Minneapolis, USA by C.R. Fine and Robert Eberenz
Production: Wilma Cozart

Ripping Info:

All vinyl is cleaned on a VPI 16.5

Technics SL1200-MK5
Shure V15VxMR
SimAudio Moon 110LP preamp
Native Instruments Audio4DJ USB interface

Processing: Sound Forge 10, ClickRepair (manual mode only)


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12 thoughts on “Skrowaczewski: Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra – Prokofiev: Romeo and Juliet – Ballet Suites Nos. 1 & 2 (Mercury Living Presence / Speakers Corner, 180g pressing)

  1. Great, really great quality sound. Many thanks. I don´t see the moment for buy a master loudspeakers……unfortunally im young and spanish jajaja

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