San Francisco Ballet Orchestra
by Heather Desaulniers
San Francisco Ballet is known for its stunning dancers, outstanding choreographers and top-notch artistic staff. But there is another crucial element that shapes every San Francisco Ballet experience: the talented, phenomenal musicians of the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra, led by conductor Martin West. This Spring, Reference Recordings provides an opportunity to celebrate this group of brilliant artists with the release of a new CD - their musical interpretation of Léo Delibes' "Sylvia" and "Coppélia". Let these transcendent scores guide your journey through two glorious narrative ballets.
Martin West, Musical Director and Principal Conductor at San Francisco Ballet since 2005, has an exceptional intuition for the marrying of music and ballet. Accompaniment is not enough - West understands that every score must dance on its own. This is the only way to ensure that the movement and choreography from the pit creates a perfect harmony with that which appears onstage.
The first half of Reference Recording's Delibes collection features music from "Sylvia". Track four, Valse Lente, is a perfect testament to the broad range within the score. Dynamically, this four minute variation runs the entire spectrum, from the quietest of pianissimos to the most forceful of sforzandos. The articulation and intonation also personify a magnificent breadth with delicate, floaty staccatos juxtaposed against the silken luxury of the legato phrases. "Coppélia" occupies the second half of the disc, again indicating San Francisco Ballet Orchestra's command of every genre - the Mazurka's (track sixteen) striking layered grandeur alongside the soft haunting melody of track twenty-three's La Prière. San Francisco Ballet's reputation as a world-class company exists because they can do everything and do it at a transcendent level of excellence. The Delibes recording verifies that this is true of the entire San Francisco Ballet family - the dance branch and the music branch.
Seeing the SF Ballet accompanied by the SF Ballet Orchestra live and in person is a must. But in between those trips to the majestic War Memorial Opera House, this new CD release gives you access to a sensational orchestra any time you wish. Enjoy and revisit the wonder of Léo Delibes' "Sylvia" and "Coppélia"!
Read related stories in the press and see what others are saying -- visit the forum.