on February 15, 2002
The performance is excellent - sweet and sentimemtal where it's supposed to be yet firey and passionate where you expect it to be. What blows me away, though, is the technical quality of the recording. Telarc likes to get the mikes in there close so you can hear every nuance. They do that here with great success. Also, the mixing is exceptional. Every instrument right down to the lonely little triangle stands out in high relief. I'll go so far as to say that, using headphones, what we have here is better than sitting front row center. I've bought and heard quite a number of Nutcrackers over the years. The best thing I could ever say would be, 'That's very nice, but...'.Well, I can now say joyfully that I've probably bought my last.
on December 20, 2003
Tchaikovsky wrote "The Nutcracker" for the Kirov Orchestra and so I was really pleased to find this CD of "The Nutcracker" by...the Kirov Orchestra.
At first, I was a little shocked when I listened to the CD. The orchestra does a magnificent job but they play the music quite a bit faster than you're probably accustomed to hearing it played. After I got used to it (and it only took a few minutes), this became my very favorite recording of a cherished Christmas tradition in my house.
So many of us has seen performances of "The Nutcracker" yet how many of us really know the story? Better yet, how many of us have read (and remember) the original story by E.T.A. Hoffmann? Let's face it, when it comes to "The Nutcracker" it's not the choreography or the story we remember...it's the score. This CD, and the Kirov, give us "The Nutcracker" filled with life and energy. This is definitely a "listener's" "Nutcracker" and in my opinion, it's also "The Nutcracker" performed as it was meant to be performed.
on August 9, 2003
This ballet inspired from Hoffmann's tales and the French version by Alexandre Dumas the Elder, is a Christmas Carol that tells us a beautiful story about the imaginary world and the dreamins capability of children. It all starts so nicely with a Christmas party and Christmas presents. But a certain Councillor Drosselmeyer (we can choose between a reference to a thrush or to strangling in this character) comes and brings strange boxes on a modernistic, avant-garde, lopsided and warped music. It is disquieting and frightening, at least for children, and the tale is going to show children feed their wildest imagination on their fears. Here comes a beautiful doll, the Nutcracker, who is for Clara. But the doll is broken by the rough and rude boys. The desolation that ensues will bring Clara back to her doll in the middle of the night and she will be taken to the castle of the Prince this Nutcracker reveals himself to be, the Kingdom of Sweets, the Castle of all sweet desserts on the Sugar Mountain under the control of the Sugar-Plum Fairy. We thus go beyond the looking glass and discover a world of bonbons and sugarpies, of desserts and all kinds of entertainments. But Tchaikovsky is a lot more than just a storyteller. He is a real looting and raiding pirate for the music of absolutely any country and any tradition, among others France, Georgia, the Ukraine, Germany, you name it you can be sure you'll have it. He is the first globalized musician in the 19th century, one century ahead of history. That gives to his music a charm and an appeal that covers the whole world. What's more he uses all instruments in the most creative way and particularly strings, flutes, celesta, horns and many others, in order to create a changing atmosphere that is supposed to reflect the multifarious and evanescent imagination of children who project very general desires and impulses in an everchanging dream and vision. This ballet, that practically no one can produce any more because of the cost of the setting and costumes, has become a universal treasure, a worldwide ambassador for Russian culture,and so many other cultures at the same time, a precursor of what was to come a century later after many great crises, many great revolutions, many hot or cold wars, the detente and finally a world that is free of blocks. And yet Tchaikovsky saw farther and knew that strife, fear, evil are deeply embedded in human nature, in the ruthless boys who destroy the doll, in the voracious mice or rats that are nothing but the dark side of humanity. And in spite of that there is always somewhere, apparently here among girls, the power to dream a world of peace, love and sweetness. And every single instrument in the orchestra brings its little note to this masterwork, its little brick or stone to this eternal wall of beauty.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University of Perpignan
on December 10, 2001
There are many fine complete Nutcracker recordings available, and I own a few of them. This recording by The Kirov Orchestra conducted by Valery Gergiev is simply the best, no contest. Why? For starters, the orchestral playing is outstanding. Every detail is heard, you hear nuances never revealed before. The woodwinds bubble,... the brass are assertive yet smooth,... the strings are lovely and lush;... in all, first-rate playing from a superb Russian orchestra that has this music in their blood and plays it with spirit and total enjoyment. Tempi are brisk, but never feel rushed. The sound is in the demonstration class. The whole ballet is contained on one CD which is quite remarkable. I judge an outstanding performance and recording by several factors, which include tears of joy welling up in my eyes along with goosebumps. This Nutcracker provided me an ample supply of both. If you must only own one Nutcracker, this is it. Superlative recommendation.
on October 13, 2002
I have always been a devotee of Tchaikovsky, and The Nutcracker is one of my favorite pieces. Having owned or listened to many different recordings of this work, I feel I can make the following statement: Valery Gergiev and the Kirov Orchestra love The Nutcracker. It is necessary only to hear the first few notes of the opening overture to come to this conclusion. Listening to gifted musicians play beautiful music is a wonderful experience. Listening to the Kirov Orchestra perform this work with such love and reverence transcends any experience of the senses- you feel the performance. I found this performance to be profoundly moving, but not because of the music itself, although the music is gloriously imaginative- I was moved by the obvious devotion of the orchestra members to the work and to the composer. The Kirov obviously feel an ownership of this piece, and a responsibility to perform it as no other orchestra can. They succeed brilliantly here.
on February 25, 2004
Recordings described as the "definitive version" of certain works appear all the time. I see it this way: the modern; "definitive version" or the "Old time" definitive version. If we are looking for the "modern definitive version", STOP LOOKING!!! This is the definitive version for all times....
on February 26, 2002
What a wonderful performance: The Kirov under Valery Gergiev did their magic tricks again, bringing the old E.T.A. Hoffmann story to life. The children, the toys, Mr. Drosselmeyer, the nutcracker (with qualifications), the mouse king, Clara (the heroine), the Christmas tree, dancing flowers, fairies and everybody and everything else are alive and well in this performance--except of course the mouse king. The orchestra, as expected, is great, better than in any other recording, and the sound of the CD is warm and magical. Now you can enjoy this nostalgic music over and over again in an incredible performance.
on March 6, 2004
excellent!young as Gergiev is,he gave us the best enjoyment of the nutcrack.Seiji Ozawa and Rodzinski disappointed me.And the Finale is as good as Ormandy's.
By the way,Gergiev made good use of the celesta.The recording technik is good enough to show us the details of the ballet.
Thanks to Gergiev and Phillips
on December 19, 2001
First of all to manage to fit all the the ballet on one CD is something of an engineering marvel. Second the performers have this music in their blood and it shows it the performance. It is a curiousity that Phillips released this as a single CD, they could also do it with the recording done by Antal Dorati and the
Concertgebouw Orchestra, which clocks in at just under 80 minutes. I think that the Gergiev recording is the most exciting
recording of the work yet released. A must for any Nutcracker fan.
on April 2, 2003
I was very excited to buy this cd, since it was the complete Nutcracker Suite and only on one cd. The orchestra does a very fine job and they may play a little faster than at a ballet, but that's probably just to fit it onto one cd. This is my favorite version of the Nutcracker and I play it year-round. I think my only problem is the cd's cover has a mechanical dog toy on it instead of a Nutcracker.