In the summer of 1917, Chicago businessman Cyrus McCormick, Jr., the farm machine magnate, met ̀the 26-year-old composer Sergei Prokofiev while on a business trip to Russia. Prokofiev was unknown to McCormick, but the composer recognised the distinguished American’s name at once, because the estate his father had managed owned several impressive International Harvester machines. McCormick expressed an interest in the composer’s new music, and he eventually agreed to pay for the printing of his unpublished 'Scythian Suite'. He also encouraged Prokofiev to come to the United States, and asked him to send some of his scores to Chicago Symphony Orchestra music director Frederick Stock. Prokofiev made his debut with the Chicago Symphony the following season, playing his First Piano Concerto and conducting the orchestra in his Scythian Suite in December 1918, both U.S. premieres and returned to Chicago four more times.
With the exception of the title cut on the first album, Those Were The Days (which is given a rather stodgy treatment), this CD is vintage Percy Faith. The second LP, Love Theme from Romeo and Juliet, came out in 1969, when Faith's new sound of orchestra with female chorus had just hit its stride. The trademark harpsichord is there, too. I had this album on LP when I was eight years old, and am pleased to discover that it is absolutely delightful all these years later. The two tunes from Hair are highlights of the album, brimming with energy and delicacy at the same time. Faith also commemorates the tenth anniversary of his big instrumental hit, Theme from A Summer Place, by writing a new version with female chorus. It doesn't displace memories of the original, but it is a welcome piece on this album. If you like your '60's music in a form that is evergreen, this Percy Faith CD is for you.
Combined, Prokofiev’s three suites from Romeo include about half of the score. Still, most conductors who want to give us a full CD (or even a full LP) of Romeo pick their own extracts from the complete ballet instead of stringing together the suites. That’s probably at least partly because they don’t share Prokofiev’s preferences when it comes to favorite moments—but it’s also because, as written, the suites are organized for musical rather than narrative coherence, and thus provide little sense of the play’s dramatic trajectory. One way around the second of these issues, of course, is to reorder the suites: that’s, for instance, what Mitropoulos does with selections from the more popular First and Second. Here Andrew Litton pushes that idea to its limit, giving us all 20 movements of the three suites “in the order the music appears in the ballet score.”
Considering that Thomas' arrangement contains virtually all the main thematic material from the ballet (minus Prokofiev's many repetitions), for many listeners this hugely enjoyable disc will be the one Romeo & Juliet to have and hold. - Victor Carr Jr, Classicstoday.com
Cuban Superstar Carlos Acosta dances Romeo in Kenneth Macmillan’s timeless version of the Shakespeare/Prokofiev Classic Ballet ‘Romeo & Juliet.’ In this perennial favourite, Carlos Acosta dances alongside his regular partner, the Spanish ballerina, Tamara Rojo – a celebrated stage partnership which currently has no equal. The drama of the doomed lovers is set against the ravishing sets and costumes designs of Nicholas Georgiadis.
“These are not splashy, high-impact performances…There is something very sweet and gentle about Jarvi’s approach. The music is certainly lyrical, but is seems more so here. There are no dramatics, no pushed climaxes, no jacked-up highs. The music merely unfolds. It’s a relief after so many other performances… If you are used to rich strings and stentorian brass this will seem understated at first. But aren’t you tires of conductors who overstate everything?”Vroon @ American Record Guide - November/December 2009