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Nutcracker: Complete Ballet Score
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Tchaikovsky,P.I. ~ Nutcracker-Comp
Charles Mackerras is one of the most purely musical and versatile conductors around. In fact, he's never made a bad record, and this Nutcracker is outstanding. It also served as the soundtrack to a movie version of the ballet, and Mackerras's interpretation has a sense of cinematic spectacle that's very appropriate. He brings superb drama to the action sequences: the battle with the Mouse King, bustling Christmas scenes at the opening, and the "transformation" of the Christmas tree. In the second act (which is where most of the famous Suite comes from), each of the dances is sharply characterized. In short, a great performance. --David Hurwitz
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It is the second performance of the Nutcracker that I obtained for my collection, and both are so excellent that I do not feel that I need any others (the first purchase I made is Temirkanov conducting the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, on RCA, probably still my favorite, but no longer available as far as I know: Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker (complete on 2 CDs)--Temirkanov/Royal Philharmonic Orchestra).
The Nutcracker is wonderful music, always enjoyable and particularly during the holidays, and Sir Charles Mackerras and the London Symphony Orchestra are faultless, as is the recording quality on Telarc CD. There is the added bonus that this 2-disc set is not one of the new issues that have been made without good booklets and notes. The 22 page (all in English) booklet included with this set includes a scene by scene explanation of the work, a nice short biography of the composer and the writing of the Nutcracker, and notes on the movie production and set design by Maurice Sendak ("Where the Wild Things Are").
An excellent choice for this timeless music, it will not disappoint you. At the current price (much less expensive that I paid when I purchased it some years ago), it is a bargain!