Prokofiev’s Romeo & Juliet is availble to Society of Sound members this month. LSO Live Producer, James Mallinson, talks about the performance and explains why they no longer include applause on their recordings.
“A whole evening’s music-making with an enormous orchestra can only be a rare undertaking in the concert hall. When Gergiev and the LSO gave just two performances of Prokofiev’s complete ballet ‘Romeo and Juliet’ in London, both sold out. LSO Live was there to document them.
The concerts at the Barbican were a masterclass in how to relate a story without having the dancers to act it. As the strings set the scene at the beginning of Act I, those present in the concert hall would have seen two arms sculpting sound from large forces. The sonority, the ebb and flow of phrases in the introduction, are wonderfully expressive. As the performance unfolds and other instruments unleashed, you realise the music itself is so strongly characterised as to require neither ballet dancers nor props.
The strongest reaction of the evening in the concert hall came after the shatteringly powerful climax to Act II, when Romeo has felled the bloodthirsty Tybalt with his sword. By the end of Act III, when the two lovers have finally met their end in the tomb, everyone was wrung out and wild applause for the musicians was just not possible.
LSO Live decided early on that it wasn’t going to keep the applause in its recordings – repeated listening would be a bit tiresome with it in – but the hope is always that capturing such an outstanding performance will make you wish you had been there to share the excitement. This is one such.”
James Mallinson, Producer, LSO Live.