PROKOFIEV: Romeo and Juliet (complete ballet)
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra / Marin Alsop, cond.
NAXOS 8.573534-35 (2 disks) TT: 2:24:14

PROKOFIEV: Dace of the Knights from Romeo and Juliet. Violin Concerto No. 1 in D, Op.19. Grand Waltz from Cinderella, Op. 87. Violin Concertio No. 2 in G minor, Op. 63.
Lisa Batiashvili, violin / Chamber Orchestra of Europe / Yannick Nézet Séguin, cond.
DGG 00289 479 8529 TT: 59:49

FORD: Stubernic Fantasy. McCARTHY: Chamber Symphony No. 1 for Marimba and Winds. (Deer Hunting in Michigan / Harmonic Rhythms / The Stuff of Adventure). ABE: Prisim Rhapsody II. HIGDON: Percussion Concerto.
Mark Ford, Paul Rennick, Sandi Rennick, Keiko Abe, marimba. North Texas Wind Symphony / Eugene Migliaro Corporon, cond.

Today Marin Alsop is recognized as a leading interpreter of music of Prokofiev. She already has recorded all seven symphonies and other works with the Sao PPaulo Symphony, praised on this site. Now she turns her attention to the complete ballet Romeo and Juliet, this time with her home orchestra, the fine Baltimore Symophony. This is collaboration has produced a number of excellent recordings including frfour four Dvorak symohionies, Gershwin, Daugherty and Bertnstein. There are countless recordings of suites from Prokofiev's masterpiece and several complete recordings including those by Vladimir Ashkenazy and Valery Gergiev. Alsopo presents the complete score with each interlude tracked separately (52 in al). Superb performances, and the recording, made in the warm acoustics of Baltimore;'s Meyerhoff Hall in OIctober 2015, is well-balanced and wide in dynamic range. Tbhe two well-filled disks sell for the price of one full-price CD.

Prokofiev's two violin concertos, staples of the repertory, craggy are tests for violinists. Concerto No. 1, composed in 1917, was a favorite of Joseph Sigeti and David Oistrakh; both violinists recorded it. There are several Oistrakh recording, the finest a live 1972 performance with Bernard Haitink and the Royal Concertgebouw (REVIEW). Concerto No. 2, composed in 1935 was a favorite of Jascha Heifetz, and his famous 1959 recoding with Charles Munch and the Boston Symphony is available in digital processing .Of course there are many other more recent recordings; this site has praised some of them, particularly the Pentatone SACD with Arabella Steinbacher and Vasily Petrenko conducting (REVIEW). The exciting violinist Lisa Batiashvili, who already has made outstanding recordings of a wide repertory, with the help of the excellent orchestra directed by Nézet-Séguin, plays both Prokofiev concertos to perfection. and her recording adds two bonuses: The Dance of the Knights from Romeo and Juliet, and the familiar March from The Love for Three Oranges both arranged by arranged by the artist's father, Tamas. The recordings were made in Baden-Baden's Festival House in 2015 and and 2017, and the engineers have captured a very well-balanced natural audio picture.

Mark Ford is a master of percussion specializing in the marimba. For more than two decades he has been Coordinator of Percussion at The University of North Texas College of Music in Denton, Texas. This remarkable artist is a prime mover in the world of percussion an has made many best-selling recordings of varied repertory for his chosen instrument. . Many of his performances are available on on You Tube and it is fascinating to watch him work his magic. On this latest CD he plays a number of his own works, Prism Rhapsody II by Keiko Abe works, and the most substantial piece is a 25-minute percussion concerto by Jennifer Higdon composed in 2009 on a commission from the orchestras of Philadelphia, Dallas and Indianapolis. It was praised at the 2010 premiere and the recording made at that time foir the GIA label won a 2010 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Classical Composition. Needless to say, it is given a spectacular performance by Ford and the first-rate North Texas Wind Symphony directed by Eugene Migliano. The recordings were made in the University's Winspear Performance Hall, and the engineers have captured a vital, wide-range sound picture. Recommended!

R.E.B. (April 2018)