Prokofiev / Romeo and Juliet / Munch – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

More of the music of Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953)

Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Sergei Prokofiev

Superb Sound on this Victrola pressing, with TRANSPARENCY, spaciousness and low level detail you will not believe.

And plenty of Living Stereo COLOR.  

DEMO QUALITY SOUND, if what you’re demonstrating is the three dimensional quality of Living Stereo recordings. Amazing space, depth and width can be heard on this side one. And the music is sublime.

The low level detail in the opening and the amount of ambience heard in the quieter sections is shockingly realistic Yes, the recording is compressed, which led me to think that the entire record was compressed, but that’s not completely true. In some parts it’s quite dynamic. The quiet portions are very quiet; in a couple of places there are just horns playing off in the deep distance, followed by some flutes, and they sound very natural, just as you would hear them in a concert hall.

This record has one quality that sets it apart, and that is a tremendous sense of depth and a wide soundstage. Because some of the music is quiet, and seems to be coming from so far back in the hall, you really get drawn into it, and lose the sense of being in your own living room.

This is the result of transparency and compression, a lovely combination — most of the time. If this record were to be graded on correct tonality and the quality of the instrumental timbre of every instrument, it would be Super Hot (A++)

But the loud passages don’t get as loud as they should, and the whole of the orchestral sound lacks weight and whomp. Still, the strings are rich and textured as would be expected in a good Living Stereo recording.

Side two is not quite as good. It’s richer and fuller and more tubey, but lacks the clarity of freedom from smear of side one. Also it is not as spacious.

Wikipedia’s Entry

In addition to a somewhat standard instrumentation, the ballet also requires the use of the tenor saxophone. This voice adds a unique sound to the orchestra as it is used both in solo and as part of the ensemble. Prokofiev also used the cornet, viola d’amore and mandolins in the ballet, adding an Italianate flavor to the music.

Full instrumentation is as follows:

Woodwinds: piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes (2nd doubling on 2nd English horn), English horn, 2 clarinets (2nd doubling on E-flat clarinet), bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, tenor saxophone

Brass: 6 horns, 3 trumpets, cornet, 3 trombones, tuba

Percussion: timpani, snare drum, xylophone, triangle, woodblock, maracas, glockenspiel, tambourine, chime (a’’), cymbals, bass drum

Keyboards: piano, celesta, organ

Strings: 2 mandolins, viola d’amore (or viola), 2 harps, strings


Side One

Morning Dance
Young Juliet
Montagues and Capulates
Friar Laurence

Side Two

Death of a Tybalt
Romeo and Juliet’s Parting
Romeo at Juliet’s Tomb; Juliet’s Death

This is an Older Classical/Orchestral Review

Most of the older reviews you see are for records that did not go through the shootout process, the revolutionary approach to finding better sounding pressings we developed in the early 2000s and have since turned into a fine art.

We found the records you see in these older listings by cleaning and playing a pressing or two of the album, which we then described and priced based on how good the sound and surfaces were. (For out Hot Stamper listings, the Sonic Grades and Vinyl Playgrades are listed separately.)

We were often wrong back in those days, something we have no reason to hide. Audio equipment and record cleaning technologies have come a long way since those darker days, a subject we discuss here.

Currently, 99% (or more!) of the records we sell are cleaned, then auditioned under rigorously controlled conditions, up against a number of other pressings. We award them sonic grades, and then condition check them for surface noise.

As you may imagine, this approach requires a great deal of time, effort and skill, which is why we currently have a highly trained staff of about ten. No individual or business without the aid of such a committed group could possibly dig as deep into the sound of records as we have, and it is unlikely that anyone besides us could ever come along to do the kind of work we do.

The term “Hot Stampers” gets thrown around a lot these days, but to us it means only one thing: a record that has been through the shootout process and found to be of exceptionally high quality.

The result of our labor is the hundreds of titles seen here, every one of which is unique and guaranteed to be the best sounding copy of the album you have ever heard or you get your money back.

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