Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette performed by Katija Dragojevic, Andrew Staples and Alastair Miles

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Berlioz
LABELS: Linn CKD
ALBUM TITLE: Berlioz
WORKS: Roméo et Juliette; Marche troyenne; Chasse royale et Orage
PERFORMER: Katija Dragojevic (mezzo), Andrew Staples (tenor), Alastair Miles (bass); Swedish Radio Choir & Symphony Orchestra/Robin Ticciati
CATALOGUE NO: CKD 521  

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Alongside new versions by Valery Gergiev and Sir Andrew Davis (see Choral Choice, p86) this might seem in danger of being overwhelmed. Robin Ticiatti, though, has proved to be a special Berlioz interpreter, and offers an individual, youthful reading: swifter, airy rather than lush, driven by crisp detail and translucent textures and Berlioz’s vital rhythmic spring. In the pivotal Love Scene and ‘Queen Mab’ scherzo Ticciati seems much more intimate and delicate than the rival alternatives, although he unleashes appropriate power in ‘Tumulte’, for example, and the conclusion. 

There’s also, for me, a keener sense of the work’s structure, although less of Gergiev’s operatic drama or Sir Colin Davis’s tragic intensity. The Swedish chorus is slightly less precise than the LSO singers, but sounds more intimate, as does Katija Dragojevic’s mezzo, purer and lighter than Gergiev’s Borodina. Andrew Staples sings the Mab solos with verve, if slightly less elegantly than Kenneth Tarver. Alistair Miles’s veteran Lawrence still summons up powerful authority, although his French hasn’t improved since his earlier recording; however, neither he nor Gergiev’s Yevgeny Nikitin match predecessors like David Ward, for Pierre Monteux. Still, if freshness and vitality appeal more than sheer richness, try listening to this.

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Michael Scott Rohan