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Product Details

  • Audio CD (Oct. 25 2010)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Warner Classics
  • ASIN: B003XX2OAU
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #81,638 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Disc: 1
1. Miniature Overture
2. No. 1 - The Decoration of the Christmas Tree
3. No. 2 - March
4. No. 3 - Children's Galop and Entry of the Parents
5. No. 4 - Arrival of Drosselmeyer
6. No. 5 - Scene - Grandfather's Dance
7. No. 6 - Clara and the Nutcracker
8. No. 7 - The Battle
9. No. 8 - In the Pine Forest
10. No. 9 - Waltz of the Snowflakes
Disc: 2
1. No. 10 - The Kingdom of Sweets
2. No. 11 - Clara and the Prince
3. Chocolate: Spanish Dance
4. Coffee: Arabian Dance
5. Tea: Chinese Dance
6. Trepak: Russian Dance
7. Dance of the Reed Pipes
8. Mother Gigogne
9. No. 13 - Waltz of the Flowers
10. No. 14 - Pas de deux
See all 14 tracks on this disc

Product Description

Tchaikovsky's most famous work, The Nutcracker, is presented in this stunning new recording by the world's greatest orchestra, the Berliner Philharmoniker, under the baton of their celebrated conductor Sir Simon Rattle. This musical fairytale follows Clara and her unusual prince and protector, The Nutcracker, through adventures and exotic delights in the magical Kingdom of Sweets. The Nutcracker is the most popular ballet, and its annual holiday performances have become a treasured tradition the world over.

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By mcewin TOP 1000 REVIEWER on Dec 2 2010
Verified Purchase
Rattle and the BPO have released their recording of Nutcracker in three forms: Experience, Standard, and Discovery. Amazon.ca does not make it clear which is which: this is the Experience version. This edition comes as 2 CDs in an attractive hardback 'book' format with extensive liner notes. Extras include an access code for online video and download material, which will be available until September 2012.

Note that this is a concert performance, and that the online material does not include any ballet.

There are a number of excellent recording of the complete ballet, this being one of them. BPO uses novel sound effects (orchestral and otherwise) that add to the first-act horseplay, and the second act character dances. Rattle leads and Berlin PO plays with expected precision, and the recorded sound is excellent.

All of this said, this does not blow the competition away, and I still prefer the fast-paced all-Russian performance by Gergiev, which is also available on DVD as the full ballet.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 12 reviews
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Great Nutcracker Nov. 6 2010
By JJA Kiefte - Published on Amazon.com
Some reviewers think this performance lacking in real warmth, feeling and even danceability. Climaxes are underplayed, sound is congested and the musicians seem to be playing just for themselves (whatever that means). Professional reviewers are cited to prove the point. Well, with the same amount of effort one can find quite a few positive reviews on the Internet (NPR Music's Brian Newhouse, the Independent's Andy Gill, John J. Puccio on Classical Candor etc.). I have listened to the discs several times over the past few days, with and without earphones, and I can find very little fault with the recording. The playing is of an extraordinary high quality, the instrumental solos are spectacularly well done and with great beauty of tone. The strings sing as strings should, the horns are magnificent, the important harp is faultless. Rattle lets the music flow organically and there's never the idea of deliberateness or irksome mannerisms. Not danceable? My daughter, who is training to be a ballet dancer, immediately swayed across the room when I first put the disc on. No problem there I should say. Yes, perhaps orchestra and conductor do revel in the beauty of the music and their own musicianship. But what's wrong with beauty for beauty's sake I wonder?
Recorded sound is very lively and sparkling, bass well rounded, all instruments are clearly audible, without excessive reverb. I will play this very often, it is a perfect medicine against an upcoming winter depression. Well done Sir Simon!

Note (10-12-2010): on fellow reviewer Marc Haegeman's suggestion I bought Semyon Bychkov's 1986 BPO recording on Philips; while the conducting/playing is perhaps more characterful and manages to tell the story more convincingly by showing more affinity with a ballet performance, Rattle's soloist are more prominent and display more beauty and roundness of tone. Also, Rattle's performance manages to capture an ethereal quality (perhaps best reflected in the boys choir's singing) which eludes Bychkov, and the overall sound is fuller and richer. I for one cannot find fault with Rattle's BPO indulging in the sheer beauty of the music just for beauty's sake, and while I'm pleased to have Bychkov's as a performance, it's Rattle's set I will be returning to more often for sheer listening pleasure.
21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
On unfamiliar ground Oct. 28 2010
By Marc Haegeman - Published on Amazon.com
It's amusing to read from a conductor in a foreword to his newest recording, moreover meant to feature as plat de résistance of his 30 years with EMI campaign, that he previously hasn't been much of a fan of the composer he is playing. Of course, it has never been a secret that Simon Rattle isn't a Tchaikovsky admirer and anyone who remembers the budding maestro accompanying Russian pianist Emil Gilels in Tchaikovsky's 1st piano concerto in the early Birmingham days, knows this went hand in hand with an evident lack of affinity with the composer's world. And although the light often appears with age and Rattle readily admits he always has had a soft spot for the ballets, a complete recording of Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker" with the Berlin Philharmonic is still something of a surprise.

I wish, though, it would have been an event as well. Rattle's "Nutcracker" was recorded in late December 2009, with the 2nd Act spliced from the Silvesterkonzert to a studio recording. What immediately struck me are the lack of imagination and atmosphere of Rattle's approach. Surely, he gives us beautifully played snapshots, spotlighting Tchaikovsky's ever inventive orchestration as well as honoring the composer's dynamic markings, but he doesn't share much of a story and the few dramatic snippets he finds are sadly missing in evocative power. Rattle seems to be discovering the score and is mesmerized by the wealth of its melodies, but more than that as yet he isn't able to give. While Rattle rightfully emphasizes in his foreword the revolutionary quality of the score, highly influential on Stravinsky's ballets, his reading remains too relaxed and uneventful to convince. Don't try looking for the magic of a Christmas night here. The 1st scene is already played so uninvitingly off-hand that all you want to do is leave right away and look for a more promising party. Characteristically, the Berlin Philharmonic luxuriously wallows in its own virtuosity, yet it all sounds too much of a slick beauty contest without body and even less soul. Although expansively recorded the more weightier moments in the music lack punch as if Rattle always seems to hold back in the climaxes. After a rather unexciting battle, "In The Pine Forest" is curiously hesitant and disregards the sense of discovery and magic of the scene. The Pas de deux in Act 2 never really blooms.

The EMI recording lacks detail and clarity, which spoils much of the fun in this brilliant score. Strings and woodwinds are forwardly balanced, and during the orchestral climaxes in Act 1 the Berlin machinery tends to sound congested. Kudos for the presentation of this release, offered as a beautifully illustrated miniature hardcover book of some 60 pages, including next to Rattle's foreword, an essay on the history of the ballet (by John Warrack), a synopsis, and notes on the Berlin Philharmonic and the conductor.

Other conductors have given us far more satisfying readings: Ernest Ansermet finding character in every note; Antal Dorati, especially his recording with the Concertgebouw Amsterdam; Semyon Bychkov with a Berlin Philharmonic sounding far more inspired in 1986; Valery Gergiev with the Mariinsky Orchestra in one of his very best moments on disc. For a selection of excerpts Yevgeni Mravinsky with the Leningrad Philharmonic remains required listening.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Rattle offers a new look at the Nutcracker, full of nostalgia and beautiful playing from those Berliners Nov. 29 2010
By Andrew R. Barnard - Published on Amazon.com
Rattle has often been accused of fussiness, of letting the line drag to the point where the charm is lost. There's few works that ask for as much charm as Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker, which probably causes some justified apprehension on the part of those who are looking into this disc. I can see where the albums' critics are coming from, simply because Rattle doesn't succeed in matching the sprightly balletic qualities that other great conductors have been able to pull out of the work, particularly Dorati and Bychkov. Rattle offers wonderful big sound, phenomenal first desk playing (particularly from oboist Albrecht Mayer), and EMI's sonics are top notch.

But beyond these perhaps technical details, Rattle's approach differs in many ways from the other versions I own, namely Gergiev/Kirov, Dorati/Concertgebouw, and Bychkov/Berlin, in addition to Bernstein/New York, Rostropovich/Berlin, and Lazarev/Bolshoi in the suite. Rattle takes more time than most, allowing him to uncover aspects of the score that often slip by in other conductor's hands. As alluded to earlier, Rattle is less concerned with being balletic than probably all the aforementioned version, something which is most keenly felt in such numbers as the "Overture" and "March". But even there, Rattle imparts a wistful nostalgia that holds one's attention, although I still feel that he doesn't match competition. It's in the numbers that ask for more than amusement where Rattle really finds his place. After hearing his version of "The Waltz of the Snowflakes", "The Arabian Dance", "The Waltz of the Flowers", and "Pas de Deux", my other versions seem dull in comparison. Rattle finds an inner beauty in these numbers that is breathtaking. "Pas de Deux" eerily prophesies of what was to come in the "Pathetique", making for a highly logical, yet unfamiliar perspective.

When it's all said and done, it's the beauty of the Berliners' tone that makes this disc extra special. Rattle uses his orchestra as a vehicle to display a vast palate of gorgeous colors, making for very festive music. Those wanting a Nutcracker to keep them on the go will meet certain disappointment, but for those who are willing to take the time, this new Rattle version is one of the best.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A precise and warm tribute May 13 2012
By K. Conover - Published on Amazon.com
This isn't a critic's review. (I could write one, but many others already have.) This is more of a personal note.

I have a degree in music, and have played in several orchestras, and have played The Nutcracker before; but I gave up my performing career, I'm afraid, to become a physician. I would hope I still retain a bit of street cred when it comes to music.

I was driving home from the hospital tonight, and turned on XM radio in the car.

Aha, The Nutcracker! A favorite. (I'll put Tchaikovsky's ballet music right up there with Bach and Brahms as far as the finely-honed quality of the music.)

As I listened longer, I realized how much I enjoyed this particular recording. That's because I recognized the craftsmanship of the performance. Craftsmanship in conducting is not in flashy tempos, it's in understanding what Tchaikovsky intended in terms of orchestration. It's a conductor who has a deep understanding of the music, and knows how to give members of the orchestra pointers to bring out this particular line, or that one, to achieve the full effect intended by the composer.

Sir Simon Rattle did have the advantage of one of the world's great orchestras, but nonetheless, his understanding of the music and his guidance of the orchestra resulted in a performance that allowed Tchaikovsky's masterful orchestration - which truly shines in his ballet music, raising him to the master level of Rimskii-Korsakov, Mahler and Bartok - to be fully realized. Nothing flashy, just pure, unadulterated Tchaikovsky, with no idiosyncratic flourishes so favored of critics. Caveat: some of this may be because Sir Simon's interpretation jives with mine. If you believe the music should be performed differently, your mileage may vary.

Well, I got home and ran into the house, rushing to turn on the streaming audio on my computer on, to listen to the remainder of the broadcast, so I could find out who had created this essentially-perfect recording. As soon as I found out, I ordered a CD.

Highly, highly recommended.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Experience Edition - Beautiful Music & Packaging, but Beware! Sept. 27 2012
By L. Columbus - Published on Amazon.com
I've just received a new and still sealed copy of the 2 disc "Experience Edition" and first of all, the packaging is lovely. However, there is a code printed on an outer paper sleeve, that is supposed to allow one to download bonus content from the Simon Rattle website. When I attempt to visit this site, I receive an error message, saying the address can not be found. My only guess is the content has been removed, since the CD was originally released in 2010. This may seem like a minor quibble to some, but I would love to have been able to access the videos and other content. In any case, it is still a gorgeous set and I'm happy to have it.

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