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Oleg Ledeniov
MusicWeb International, September 2012

In the Soviet Union Spartacus was much trumpeted and acclaimed as almost the best ballet of Modern times, and I can see why: it is an ideal socialist realist work, bombastic, easy to grasp, perfect music to be consumed by the Proletariat…the music is inspired, and can serve as an example of a socialist-realist creation where real talent made the art believable.

The music is grand and energetic, with a black-and-white, martial character. It has some longueurs and a few moments of banality. A chorus is employed at strategic points, to remarkable effect.

The performance is solid and enthusiastic and has real drive. The soloists are expressive, and the balance of the orchestra is good. The brass is bright and golden…Michail Jurowski gives a faithful account, without surprises. The heavenly Adagio of Spartacus and Phrygia is as magical as ever. This is definitely the highlight. It has its own internal dramatic development, and in a good performance can be a cathartic experience. It is full of profound tenderness and sincere love.

The recording is clean and realistic. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Jerry Dubins
Fanfare, July 2012

The ballet’s storyline purports to reenact actual historical events, though as with all such adaptations, liberties are taken. Spartacus, King of Thrace, and his wife, Phrygia, are taken captive by the Romans during one of their conquests around 75 B.C. There’s enough blood, gore, and sex to satisfy everyone. Highlights of the score, of course, are the bacchanal scene and the famous Adagio of Spartacus and Phrygia upon their initial escape.

For those…who do wish to experience the full score in an audio-only recording, Jurowski’s Capriccio version is colorful, well characterized, highly dynamic, and unreservedly recommended. © 2012 Fanfare Read complete review

George Dorris
Ballet Review, June 2012

Music for the powerhouse Soviet ballets was composed like those for Hollywood epics, spectacular music for spectacular productions. Lavishly orchestrated, with special themes for key characters and events, the music draws the audience into the action while providing both floor and background for all that goes on. Spartacus…was one of the last major examples of the genre before a new generation reduced the scale.

In this 1997 recording, Jurowski luxuriates in Khachaturian’s orchestral colors—garish, lively, or sober—and big tunes that carry this pageant of Roman cruelty and excess, and the heroism of the revolting slaves with the love of Spartacus and Phrygia…it’s a highly accomplished work by a true craftsman with a strong rhythmic sense and a gift for melody and orchestration. © 2012 Ballet Review

Robert Benson, February 2012

The performance by the excellent Berlin orchestra is outstanding, and Michail Jorowski’s conducting is spirited and sensuous. Audio is state-of-the-art, with blazing brass totally appropriate for this music. This is excellent in every way. The two discs sell for the price of one CD. © 2012 Read complete review

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