PROKOFIEV: Romeo and Juliet–Suite No. 1, Op. 64a; Suite No. 2, Op. 64b; RESPIGHI: The Pines of Rome – The Philadelphia Orchestra/Riccardo Muti – EMI Classics

by | Jul 20, 2005 | Classical Reissue Reviews | 0 comments

PROKOFIEV: Romeo and Juliet–Suite No. 1, Op. 64a; Suite No. 2,
Op. 64b; RESPIGHI: The Pines of Rome – The Philadelphia
Orchestra/Riccardo Muti

EMI Classics 5 86642 2  75:06****:

Restorations in fine sound from Riccardo Muti’s tenure, 1980-1992, with
the Philadelphia Orchestra, from 1981 (Prokofiev) and 1984 (Respighi).
The playing for the Prokofiev suites from his most passionate ballet is
silken and warm, in plastically bravura style. The quiet passages and
courtly dances maintain their Renaissance-air character, and the
Love-Scene is pristine and intimate. I do not find the kind of frenzied
passion in Muti’s interpretation, despite the exalted sonics, that I
find in Mitropoulos or Stokowski, even Maazel, readings of this score.

 
That
the efficacy of the musical realizations under Muti is pungent and
rhythmically vital is never in doubt. Color and drama mark both suites,
with some splendid riffs from brass and battery, some whiplash effects
in the winds in the opening Folk Dance and The Montagues and the
Capulets. The final scenes convey the tragedy with solemnity and fire.
The Pines of Rome is by now a familiar orchestral warhorse to display
the variegated colors of any ensemble. Muti’s rendition is in the
literal, if overripe, tradition we can find in Toscanini’s conceptions.
While I am not particularly drawn to Respighi’s music – finding it,
like the work of Delius, rather intellectually vapid, I still
appreciate musical execution in the grand style. Solid, reverberant
readings of two staples if you happen to need them.

–Gary Lemco

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