Gordon Getty
Joan and the Bells

  1. 1) Judgment


  2. 2) Joan in her chamber


  3. 3) The square at Rouen


Serge Prokofiev
Romeo and Juliet, Suite No. 2, op. 64-ter

  1. 4) Montagues and Capulets


  2. 5) Juliet, the young girl


  3. 6) Friar Laurence


  4. 7) Dance


  5. 8) Romeo at Juliet’s before parting


  6. 9) Dance of the Antilles girls


  7. 10) Romeo at Juliet’s grave


CD information

1429 was the 92nd year of the Hundred Years' War. Three generations of French had been bloodied in the disasters of Crecy, Poitiers and Agincourt. In the spring of that year an illiterate peasant girl told first the Governor of her region, and then the Dauphin, that she had been chosen by God to drive the English back to their shores. She was given a few soldiers and sent to join the defense of Orleans. She led the French army to victory. Later in that year she broke the English strongholds along the Loire, and led the Dauphin through Burgundian territory to his coronation at Rheims. Soon she had proved too warlike and independent for the new king's comfort. In 1430 she attacked Burgundian Paris, without result, after he had declared a truce. When she was captured in battle a few months later he did not ransom her, although he could have done so easily under the customs of the time. She was sold to the Duke of Burgundy, and tried by the Church for heresy and witchcraft at Rouen in 1431. Pierre Cauchon, the Bishop of Beauvais, led the prosecution. She renounced her visions under a promise that her life would be spared, and recanted on learning that the terms included life imprisonment on bread and water. She was now trapped as a relapsed heretic, and was burned at the stake. She was about nineteen years old.

1936 – the year in which Sergei Prokofiev composed two of his three Romeo and Juliet Suites. Following his return from exile to the Soviet Union in the middle of the 1930‘s, Prokofiev concentrated mainly on his full-length ballet Romeo and Juliet, on which he had worked with great enthusiasm during the summer and autumn of 1935 after receiving a commission from the Moscow Bolshoi Theatre. (His enthusiasm for ballet music had clearly revealed itself during his time in Paris, during which he composed a number of ballets for Sergei Diaghilev‘s famous Ballets Russes.) The Ensemble was certainly disappointed after first hearing it played through and also during rehearsals; they considered Prokofiev‘s complicated rhythmic structures to be "undanceable" and the unexpected happy ending, in which Julia wakes up in time to prevent Romeo from committing suicide, to be inappropriate. The Bolshoi Theatre finally dropped the production. But Prokofiev was so convinced of the quality of his work – in which his melodic talent, refined intellect and experience in writing film-music are interwoven in an artistic manner – that he wrote two Concert Suites as a kind of propaganda for his own compositions.