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Nutcracker


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Product Details

  • Audio CD (Oct. 25 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Warner Classics
  • ASIN: B003ZJJHAM
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #15,571 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

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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful By mcewin TOP 1000 REVIEWER on Dec 2 2010
Format: Audio CD
Rattle and the BPO have released their recording of Nutcracker in three forms: Experience, Standard, and Discovery. Although Amazon.ca does not make it clear which is which, this is the *Standard* version. This edition comes as 2 CDs, with extensive liner notes in a hardback book format, with access to online extras such as video material. The difference between the Standard and Experience editions appears to be the range of online extras, otherwise the packages are identical. [The Discovery is a 1 CD set of excerpts, and might be recommended for younger children].

There are a number of excellent concert recording of the complete ballet, this being one of them. There are a number of novel sound effects (orchestral and otherwise) that add to the first-act horseplay, and the second act character dances. The Berlin PO plays with expected precision, and the 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 and the Kirov Orchestra. The Gergiev is also available as a ballet DVD.

For the small difference in price, especially if this is ordered as a gift, I would get the "Experience" edition.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 22 reviews
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Wonderful Nutcracker Nov. 6 2010
By JJA Kiefte - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
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.
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Rattle, BerlinPO: Tchaikovsky: Nutcracker (Comp): A Congenial, Warm, Sparkling Reading ... Oct. 28 2010
By drdanfee - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Just in time to bell off the start of the coming holiday season this winter, arrives this complete two-disc set of the Tchaikovsky Nutcracker Ballet music. You can get it plain, as it were - two discs, mostly the music - or you can get it fancy, all dolled up in book presentation, styled in a high manner worthy of gift giving to people of all ages. Of course, this reading being so good, you just might want you add yourself to any gift giving lists that are already shaping up in your holiday imagination.

Bottom line, this set goes right to my keeper shelf. It will sit nicely, right next to the older Antal Dorati readings (one in SACD with the LSO, the other in red book PCM with the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra), plus the newer SACD set from Bolshoi under Vedernikov. Each of those sets was good enough to savor and savor again; this reading meets those high precedents.

Rattle gives the Berliners their head, and each department of the band is simply excellent, in the warmest, most congenial way. If you want your Nutcracker music to engender a smile, above all, then this is a set you simply must consider. Tempos are mainstream, yet often relaxed; matched to equally flexible, relaxed phrasing that seems to sing the whole varied drama of this story into vivid, colorful, imaginative being. Nor do Rattle and Berlin stint on the sparkle needed to make this a glittering night at the (typically, holiday season) ballet, indeed. So, be sure: This set has plenty of sparkle. Oodles of sparkle. Even the mood changing music that shifts us from one scene's focus to another is abundantly theatrical, not a boring note in the whole business.

Along the way, innumerable soloists in the band get to show off, in high technical manners always dedicated to the composer and the dance scenario. Not a bum notion among the lot of them, all bright, brilliant, warm, and breathing the charm of this narrative in and out, so easy that you think the Berliner's could probably do all of Tchaikovsky in their sleep without a hitch. No matter how strongly their sense of fluency strikes you, however, nobody is at all disengaged or asleep.

When the dream world mists and shadows roll in, beneath a decorated tree grown a hundred miles high, ... when the mice go to war with the Nutcracker, ... when the snowflakes waltz, ... first note to last, this performance charms and warms, so ease-full, so natural as to dispel for a time all other memories of other holiday nights in past seasons. In this reading above all, Rattle seems finally, utterly at home at the head of this most famous global orchestra. Their musical partnership has jelled, is finally really melding. Eminently recommendable.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
A beautiful recording, even if grocery store cats may grumble Nov. 7 2010
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Rattle, not known at all for Tchaikovsky, springs a holiday surprise. First-rank conductors don't seem to record complete Tchaikovsky ballets, or they didn't until the Russians started coming west. In Berlin Abbado and Karajan never made a complete Nutcracker, although Karajan recorded the suite sumptuously on two occasions. Judging from Bernstein's early recording of the suite -- still one of the most joyous and energized -- he would have been ideal. As it is, the best Nutcrackers have come from experienced ballet conductors who have the choreography and the story in mind; they find more details in the music than straight-out orchestral conductors. Simon Rattle falls into the latter category, and his new Nutcracker displays the pluses and minuses of a symphonic approach.

It is swooningly beautiful as sheer playing, and EMI helps out with a big sound and close-up miking of the Berliners' world-class solo players. But at the same time the storytelling is rather generic, and of springy balletic rhythms there's not much evidence. You are more likely to sit in admiration than jump to your feet and dance. Unlike the highly critical three-star reviewer, who makes all the right points about Rattle's dramatic blandness, I feel willing to forgive the moments of fussy cautiousness. Here and there some numbers fall really flat -- the opening Overture and March have no spark at all. But they don't augur the future. The reading gains energy as it goes along, and if you love Tchaikovsky's orchestration, which is at its most sophisticated in the Nutcracker, the advances in recorded sound since the days of classic ballet conductors like Dorati and Ansermet have been enormous. Their lovely recordings cannot compete for sonic depth and impact.

In the end, young listeners coming to this most delightful of childhood musical treats will be well satisfied, and although old grocery store cats will grumble, Rattle has done something beautiful.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Lacking in Warmth and "Danceability?" Balderdash! May 12 2012
By John K. Casey - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Peter Il'yich Tchaikovsky composed "The Nutcracker" in 1892 for Russia's Imperial Theater, on the heels of his successful "The Sleeping Beauty" of two years earlier. The composer would again join forces with Marius Petipa, the imperious choreographer with whom he had collaborated on his previous triumph. Petipa chose as his material a greatly simplified adaptation of E.T.A. Hoffmann's story "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King." He gave Tchaikovsky extremely detailed instructions for the composition of the music in every scene, right down to the tempo and number of bars. Tchaikovsky bristled under such heavy handed control, and proceeded with the work reluctantly. He set it aside while he travelled to the United States to conduct concerts for the opening of the newly constructed Carnegie Hall in New York. Nevertheless, he persevered, and the first performance of the ballet took place on December 18, 1892 at the Imperial Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, the preeminent music venue of late 19th century Russia. The premiere was not a success. The dancers themselves were ambivalent. One critic carped that the choreography of the battle scene was confusing, writing, "One cannot understand anything...disorderly pushing about from corner to corner and running backwards and forwards...quite amateurish." The reception of the music was considerably better, one commentator hailing it as being "astonishingly rich in inspiration" and "from beginning to end, beautiful, melodious, original, and characteristic."

Of course, since that first performance the music of "The Nutcracker" has become some of the most widely recognized and beloved in all of classical music. Various excerpts are invariably trotted out at Christmas time, and even those unfamiliar with ballet in general or with Tchaikovsky's output in particular can quickly identify it. Some of the renditions over the years have been downright terrible, hackneyed knockoffs. Some, such as the selections recorded by Fritz Reiner with the Chicago Symphony in 1959, are among the most glorious versions ever committed to disk.

Perhaps it is the very symphonic nature of this score, recognized as such at its very first hearing, that has caused some of the reviewers of this particular recording to complain that this offering by Sir Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic is too dry, that it lacks drama and does not set their feet a-tapping. I heartily disagree with their view, perhaps because I favor Sir Simon's robust, muscular approach. Make no mistake, though. This is no rough-hewn recording, lacking grace and nuance. Rattle goes from strength to strength as the music progresses, bringing out the score's delicate, subtle orchestration at all of the appropriate points. The first chair soloists are invariably superb, as one would expect from this orchestra, and the tutti passages are full of vigor and élan. The playing of some of the lesser known sections, such as those that conclude Act I, are particularly lovely. And, yes, as I listened to the splendid sound pouring forth from my speakers, I found myself more than ready to rise up from my chair and dance to the exuberance and dynamism of this recording.

Highly recommended!
1 of 1 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
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
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.

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