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Frank Behrens
ArtsATL, February 2010

I love music for brass ensemble or brass band. I also love Prokofiev’s score for the ballet “Romeo and Juliet.” Therefore I doubly love the Naxos CD “Romeo and Juliet for Brass Band,” and I think (note the verb) that many of my readers will feel the same. Bjarte Engeset conducts the Eikanger-Bjorsvik Band in arrangements of 14 selections from the complete score of the Prokofiev ballet. The program notes—always very well done for Naxos recordings—explain why these 14 were chosen and why put into this particular order. Suffice it for me to say that in any order, music from this score is always a wonderful listening experience.

David Denton
David's Review Corner, January 2010

This is the finest brass band recording I have ever heard, and sets the standard by which all other band recordings will be judged. If any come close I will be very surprised, for we hear effects and subtle nuances that others still have to learn. The arrangement is itself a masterpiece, and is the inspired creation of two band members and the band’s assistant conductor. They use every trick of the trade, the extensive employment of mutes to create quiet effects, and tuned percussion to take the place of orchestral instruments, show the care taken to recreate Prokofiev’s score without compromising the fact that they are a brass band. Turn to track three, Morning Dance, to hear the delicacy, and then go to track 10 to sample sheer virtuosity in Death of Tybalt. And how do they manage a sound just like orchestral French Horns? Then you read the booklet and become even more amazed when you learn that these are amateur musicians, the band being the most famous in Norway. They are conducted by Bjarte Engeset, better known on the international orchestral circuit, among his recordings a highly acclaimed series of music by the Norwegian composer, Geirr Tveitt. He has sensibly taken them into a church acoustic that is well away from that tight boxy sound beloved by British bands. The engineering is exemplary. So if you are a lover of brass bands, or simply enjoy Prokofiev’s music, this is an absolutely essential purchase.

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