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Fred Cohn
Opera News, October 2019

The set’s most compelling element is the work of its soloists. Marion Lebègue, with a warm, verdant mezzo-soprano, turns the “Strophes” into a thing of great drama… The “Mab” scherzetto becomes a moment of expert display for tenor Julien Behr, each dartlike note finding its target. © 2019 Opera News Read complete review



Jerry Dubins
Fanfare, September 2019

The orchestral execution in this newly released Slatkin Romeo and Juliet is exemplary, and thoroughly enjoyable. Slatkin even manages not to bog down and bore this listener with the 16-and-a-half-minute long orchestral “Scène d’amour,” the longest single movement in the entire work.

I like the lightness and clarity Slatkin brings to Berlioz’s orchestral scoring, and the responsiveness of the Lyon players to Slatkin’s baton. © 2019 Fanfare Read complete review



Gil French
American Record Guide, September 2019

Romeo & Juliet is filled with counterpoint and small but telling orchestral rhythms and tone colors. Starting with the opening’s counterpoint passages… 

Mezzo Marion Lebegue has a pleasing timbre, tenor Julien Behr is direct, but both have small parts. Only when bass Frederic Caton arrives in Part 3 does the recording finally achieve some atmosphere. © 2019 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide




Juan Manuel Ruiz
Ritmo, September 2019

Slatkin gets the perfect assembly with full ease and eloquence. Slatkin achieves moments truly inspired by Roméo seul or la Scène d’amour, with a vision of Berlioz without excesses, very subtle and weighted. © 2019 Ritmo



Huntley Dent
Fanfare, July 2019

We’re lucky that Slatkin calls upon such fine singers as mezzo Marion Lebègue and most especially the ringing, charismatic tenor of Julien Behr, who sounds like a rising star. Both soloists, along with the choral forces of Spirito/Choeurs de Bernard Tétu, find extra nuance and dramatic point thanks to their idiomatic grasp of the language and the appropriate vocal style.

…This new Roméo et Juliette rivals the best on disc and thanks to Naxos’s superbly vivid sonics, is certainly the best-sounding among modern versions. © 2019 Fanfare Read complete review



Paul Corfield Godfrey
MusicWeb International, May 2019

Throughout the performance, too, Slatkin shows himself sensitively aware of the elements in Berlioz’s score which are most original. That is, his dramatically inspired touches which not only illustrate the progress of the play in the Shakespeare version as amended by Garrick, but even determine the actual form taken by the symphonic development: not just in the graphic depiction of the death of the two lovers, but also in the rhapsodically free treatment of the balcony scene.

 This is a most welcome addition to the Naxos catalogue… © 2019 MusicWeb International Read complete review



The Northern Echo, May 2019

The work features intensely dramatic scenes but at its heart is the Love Scene, a long symphonic poem which Richard Wagner called ‘the melody of the 19th century.’ © 2019 The Northern Echo



David Denton
David's Review Corner, April 2019

Filling a rather large gap in the Naxos catalogue, conductor, Leonard Slatkin, gathers around him his Lyon orchestra and a fine group of three French soloists. In content Berlioz followed the story as related in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, combining solo ‘arias’ with extended passages of purely orchestral music that set the scene as the drama unfolds. The composer was to describe it with the words, ‘it is not a concert opera, but a choral symphony’, to which he later inserted the word ‘dramatic’. Whatever genre it falls into, this was one of Berlioz’a finest and most inspired scores, the orchestral sections often performed alone in concerts, and carry subtitles such as ‘Queen Mab Scherzo’, ‘Grand Fete chez Capulet’ and ‘Scene d’amour’. Though infrequently heard as a complete work in the concert hall, it has received a number of highly acclaimed recordings, and here we add another one that is highly desirable. Less brash than we have in some highly regarded releases, Slatkin brings a wide range of subtle colours in the orchestral score and he has the eminent mezzo, Marion Lebegue Juliet partnered with the smooth tenor of Julien Behr as Romeo. Towards the end of the score, Frederic Caton is the sonorous Frier Laurance. In total this is performance of great beauty and very different to the explosive account that in recent times Sir Colin Davis placed on disc with the London Symphony, while the balance here between orchestra and chorus is far better judged. To complete the second disc we have two well-known Shakespeare overtures, Slatkin’s Beatrice and Benedict a very positive and outgoing account to contrast with the smouldering mindset of King Lear. Two riveting performances, and a top recommendation. © 2019 David’s Review Corner




Colin Anderson
Classicalsource.com, April 2019

All are handsomely brought off, Slatkin not so much conducting the music as communing with it – gate-crashing the ball with musically articulate gusto (I’m pleased to report an ideal skin-side tambourine hit at 4’49”, track 7, one of my train-spotter moments in this movement, although the very end of it is slightly gabbled) and in total sympathy with the star-crossed titular couple in the ‘Scène d’amour’, rapt and spacious, illicit friendship by moonlight, glowing, palpitating and soaring, turned eloquently, and, as music, winning Wagner’s approval. © 2019 Classicalsource.com Read complete review





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