It's difficult to browse new CDs without stumbling into the occasional young prodigy on this instrument or that. What's rare is to stumble across a young -- truly young -- conducting prodigy. But that's precisely what Lorin Maazel, who began conducting at the age of seven, turned out to be. For most artists still living today, a recording from 1957 would represent a reminiscence to the beginning of a career. For Maazel, it is not as early as some might think. Despite his youthful countenance portrayed in the liner notes, Maazel's conducting of the Berlin Philharmonic is seasoned, controlled, and refined. Only an experienced artist could pull off such an engaging interpretation of Berlioz's Romeo & Juliet, a work that far too often loses momentum by the very protracted love scene. Maazel keeps the Berlin Philharmonic moving without sacrificing any of the warmth and tenderness that Berlioz calls for. The final movement of the work -- "Romeo at the Tomb of the Capulets" -- absolutely shimmers with precision and energy. Although European recording technology in the 1950s wasn't particularly up to snuff, leading to extremely treble-heavy performances, the intensity and precision of this performance by far make up for issues of recorded sound quality. Fans of Maazel and historical recordings will both want this recording among their collection.
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AllMusic Review by Mike D. Brownell
|Roméo et Juliette, for alto, tenor, bass, chorus & orchestra ("symphonie dramatique"), H.79 (Op. 17)|