SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews

VERDI: Complete Ballet Music from the Operas – Bournemouth Sym. Orch./ José Serebrier – Naxos audio-only Blu-ray

The first time all of Verdi's operatic ballet music has been available on one lengthy recording, and in hi-res surround too.

Published on March 19, 2012

VERDI: Complete Ballet Music from the Operas [TrackList follows] – Bournemouth Sym. Orch./ José Serebrier – Naxos audio-only Blu-ray NBD0027, 1:55:10 (also avail. on 2-CDs) ****:

This is the latest in the Naxos audio-only Blu-ray line, an album that was previously issued as a double CD. The program is both stereo and surround using 96K/24-bit resolution, with the surround being the Blu-ray standard of DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. You can switch between PCM stereo and surround using the color buttons on your player’s remote. There are on-screen options but you can play the Blu-ray without using the display at all if you wish.  It just takes a bit longer than a CD to load, as does any Blu-ray.

Verdi didn’t create much concert music, and the ballets he wrote for many of his operas were often a sort of afterthought—sometimes insisted on by the venue where they were performed, such as the Paris Opera.  He often published the scores to his operas without the ballets included as he didn’t feel they were very important. This program is supposedly the first time all of Verdi’s opera ballet music has been assembled together in a single recording.

There are 23 tracks in the lengthy program, and off the bat the three short ballet pieces from Aida will be immediately familiar to most listeners. Then there is the opening track: the five minutes of ballet music from Act III of Otello, plus the hour-hour “The Four Seasons” ballet from I vespri siciliani, which ends the program. Those are fairly familiar, as the ballet selections from Macbeth and Don Carlo. However, the two selections here from Il trovatore and the one from Jérusalem are all but unknown.

The notes by Serebrier give some details on each of the opera ballets. The conductor is noted for his interest in unusual repertory and even film scores, so this is right up his alley. The recording was made just last year in Dorset, UK. The performances have plenty of snap and the hi-res surround is of excellent quality.  This collection should be of interest to both the opera enthusiast as well as those who are averse to opera but interested in romantic period concert music—especially music for the ballet.

TrackList:
Selections from: Otello Act III, Scene 7; MacBeth: Act III, Scene 1; Jérusalem: Act III, Scene 1; Don Carlo: Act III, Scene 2; Aida: ballet music from Acts I, II & III; Il trovatore: Act III, Scene 1; I vespri siciliani: Act III, Scene 2.

—John Sunier




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