Top positive review
A Thrilling Nutcracker
on December 2, 2002
Having the entire Nutcracker on a single CD is a great buy but, of course, convenience is only half the picture. Like their other recordings of ballets, such as The Firebird and Romeo and Juliet, Valery Gergiev and the Kirov Orchestra play with a feeling for the dance. More than likely, however, a company of dancers would find the tempos a bit too fast but the listener gains by their fresh approach to this music.
I would say that the Kirov does not sacrifice the feel and tempo of the music just to make it fit on a single CD. This recording is about 4 minutes shorter than the one by Michael Tilson Thomas (on two CDs). There is a depth to the playing of the Kirov that brings the ballet alive. By comparison, my other recordings, although well played, sound a bit underpowered.
The Pas de Deux, the highlight of the ballet, is lovingly played and deeply felt, the popular dances (Spanish dance, Arabian dance etc.) are beautifully phrased and the waltzes have a stately grandeur. There is not much room for pausing on this CD, which allows the ballet to be placed on a single CD, so act one transition to act two with scarcely a delay. The tempos are a bit faster, which adds to the thrill of the music, and the Kirov plays with perfect emphasis and coloring.
Phillips has packaged this disc in a plastic insert with a card cover rather than a jewel box, which I like for saving a bit of storage space. The notes are rather brief and give a bare outline of the ballet. If one knows the story, this will not be a disappointment.