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Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker

4.6 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Audio CD, October 25, 2010
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$25.73 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details Only 20 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Gift-wrap available.

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Tchaikovsky's most famous and one of Classical music's most beloved works performed by Sir Simon Rattle and the Berliner Philharmoniker.


Rattle is always heartfelt and expansive, and the playing of the Berliners is glorious. --The Sunday Times

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Miniature Overture
  2. The Decoration of the Christmas Tree
  3. March
  4. Children's Galop and Entry of the Parents
  5. Arrival of Drosselmeyer
  6. Grandfather's Dance
  7. Scene-Clara and the Nutcracker
  8. Scene-The Battle
  9. Scene-In the Pine Forest
  10. Waltz of the Snowflakes

Disc: 2

  1. Scene-The Kingdom of Sweets
  2. Scene-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. Waltz of the Flowers
  10. Pas de deux
  11. Variation I- Tarantella
  12. Variation II- Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy
  13. Coda
  14. Final Waltz and Apotheosis

Product Details

  • Orchestra: Berliner Philharmoniker
  • Conductor: Sir Simon Rattle
  • Composer: Tchaikovsky
  • Audio CD (October 25, 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Warner Classics
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #100,420 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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!
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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.
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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.
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Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker
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