DELIBES: Sylvia and Coppélia (Suites from the ballets) – San Francisco Ballet Orchestra /Martin West – Reference Recordings RR-125 HDCD, 73:06 [Distr. by Allegro] *****:
“… what charm, what wealth of melody!” Tchaikovsky said about Léo Delibes (1836-1891) whose music is perpetually filled, says an engaging publicity release, “with sighs of longing and the thrill of infatuation.” Whatever, Delibes has provided audiophile labels with the opportunity to strut their stuff for close to a century. For a long time Delibes was the province of Decca; now, Reference Recordings’ Keith O. Johnson takes a crack at the colorful, sentimental and daring music, perfect for Johnny Depp as Captain Hook.
The results are thrilling: they capture the space (Skywalker Sound) so naturally and comfortably that the explosion of kettle drums in the high camp “huntresses” scene can be heard to the lowest depths of their sound without blowing up your speakers (unless you have the little kind which will probably not last the first few minutes unless you keep the volume way down—remember, I told you so). It’s fullrange in the fullest sense. For many ballet music is an acquired taste. One test is whether you like the look and sound of “balletomane.” For some the French import, for which no single English word suffices, recalls memories of light afternoons engrossed in romance novels. If you’re ever in San Francisco when the Ballet Orchestra plays (and the Ballet dances), check them out.
The unifying purpose of Bach, Beethoven, Mendelssohn…