To the general music public the name of Dmitri Mitropoulos is nearly forgotten. He had the mistfortune to die at the premature age of 64 (while conducting) in 1960, leaving behind a legacy of LPs that was mostly in mono and none too plentiful. Nor was his tenure with the NY Phil. before the heralded arrival of Leonard Bernstein (a personal disciple) any great success. The fact is that Mitropoulos, a fiery Greek , mystical by temperament, and openly gay, was an outsider. Yet his name always comes up whenever a short list of great twentieth-century conductors is compiled.
This CD offers an appealing introduction to his art. The main item, nine selections from Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet, is one of the best every recorded, full of expression, tenderness, and insight. It's also in good Fifties stereo, now well remastered by Sony. The two filllers are Russian chestnuts from the pops category. the Lt. Kije Suite is brash and energetic but in fairly screechy mono. It can't really compete with Reiner's classic rendition on RCA. Fortuntely, The Night on Bald Mountain, played in the usual Rimsky-Korsakov arrangement, is in decent stereo. Mitropoulos is fairly reserved here, at least compared to a barnstormer like Stokowski, and I'm not sure he had much interest in the piece.
So if you want best sound for the Romeo and Juliet, this is the version to get. Otherwise you can buy it on a bargain Sony release coupled with a Rite of Spring from Mehta and the NY PHil. that boasts vivid sonics and lots of dynamic impact.