As a Colorado resident having the opportunity to hear the Colorado Symphony occasionally, live, I can offer nothing but praise for this disc.
After enduring (and indeed cringing through) the years of brash, metronomic, substance-less bombast of the Marin Alsop reign, followed by years of conductor-less, lazy humdrum, it is refreshing to hear true musicianship and discipline return to the Colorado Symphony. Andrew Litton has transformed this orchestra, in a very short period of time, into the real thing. This disc exhibits the sound of a new-found legitimacy, which those of us who have been around awhile, knew they had in them; they just haven't had a conductor to bring it out.
What this disc demonstrates is a correct balance among the sections. No longer do the strings sound anemic and undernourished. No longer do the brass and percussion overwhelm in climactic moments. No longer is everything too loud. No longer are the softer passages hurried through to get to the next climax. Now we hear the strings properly balanced to the winds, and the entire group - percussion included - playing with a proper sense of dynamics. The tender moments are meaningful, played lovingly and with utter care, not just soft and limp. And climaxes are built with musical purpose. I cannot praise Andrew Litton more highly. Hearing this orchestra struggle, musically, for so many years, Maestro Litton has worked a miracle in Denver.
Also, BIS's recorded sound is absolutely glorious. Boettcher Concert Hall is an acoustic mess. It's nearly impossible to find a seat within its cavernous, music-in-the-round abyss where the orchestra sounds good. But you'd never know it listening to this SACD. BIS has mastered microphone placement, and, along with Andrew Litton's careful guidance as to balance, this is as fine an orchestral sound as you're likely to hear on a stereo system.
As to the music, which ultimately is the most important part, it is cause for rejoicing that Maestro Litton has recorded the complete ballets, rather than the truncated suites, of Billy the Kid and Rodeo. While there is not a lot of extra music in Rodeo, Billy's complete score is nearly double that of the suite. It's like comparing Ravel's 5 Pieces from Ma Mere L'Oye to his complete ballet. It becomes a completely different, and highly superior, piece. Such is the case here. Litton infuses this music with a thorough understanding of the medium, filled with color and life. And thanks to Litton's reputation, BIS saw fit to record it.
I highly recommend this disc not only for its highly satisfying and realistic orchestral sound and excellent playing, but also for allowing us to hear the glories of Copland's complete ballets. Leonard Slatkin recorded them for EMI in the 80s, and that remains a treasured recording. But this one trumps it with its superb, modern SACD sound from BIS. Enjoy this disc because there are probably no more in the pipeline - Litton has resigned, suddenly, effective as of the end of the 2015-16 season.