Sergei Prokofiev (23.04.1891 – 05.03.1953) was a Russian Soviet composer, pianist and conductor. He created a number of masterpieces in various genres and is one of the great composers of the twentieth century. Works to highlight include his Piano Concerto No. 3 in C major, Op. 26, Piano Sonata No. 7 in B flat major, Op. 83, his two violin concertos, two violin sonatas, symphonies 1 and 5 and his ballet Romeo and Juliet, Op. 64.
In 1935, Sergei Prokofiev made a devil’s bargain. He returned to the Soviet Union, having receive a lucrative offer to write any opera or ballet he chose and to lead the country’s music scene. He chose to compose a Romeo and Juliet ballet, based upon William Shakespeare’s play. This led to the writing of one of the most widely appreciated dance works in the repertory and as a spin-off; a series of famous orchestral suites. The full ballet premiered in the Mahen Theatre, Brno (then in Czechoslovakia, now in the Czech Republic), on 30 December 1938. However we are more used to hearing the significantly revised version that was first presented at the Kirov Theatre (now Mariinsky Theatre) in Leningrad on 11 January 1940. This production received international acclaim and the ballet has maintained its popular position to the present day.
Our first choice recording comes from Valery Gergiev conducting the London Symphony Orchestra in a live recording on the LSO Live label.
For those looking to acquire a bargain price version you need look no further than Marin Alsop’s recently released, fine performance with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra on Naxos.
If you are looking for a DVD version then you can turn to the Royal Ballet on Decca starring Carlos Acosta (as Romeo) and Tamara Rojo (as Juliet) in a 2009 recording conducted by Boris Gruzin.