Robin Ticciati & SRSO - Berlioz: Romeo et Juliette - The Absolute Sound
Romeo et Juliette counts as Berlioz’s third symphony—Symphonie fantastique is No. 1 and Harold in Italy No. 2. The length (around 90 minutes) plus the requirements for vocal soloists and chorus are likely responsible for its relative rarity in concert or on disc. It’s a brilliantly conceived and executed treatment of the familiar story, one that distills the action and emotional substance of Shakespeare’s drama. Just don’t expect a linear representation of the plot: as the notes point out, this is a symphony, not an opera. Two choruses represent the rival Capulet and Montague families, solo voices offer commentary and portray minor characters—notably Friar Lawrence—and the orchestra speaks for the unfortunate lovers. Robin Ticciati is among the most promising conductors of his generation, and he leads the sprawling work with dramatic purpose. The soloists are excellent, especially Alistair Miles as the Friar, and the small chorus sings with precision and an agreeable blend. The sound is immediate, with natural vocal/choral/orchestral balances. Linn’s packaging, with a bound booklet, is luxuriant.