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  • Ballets: Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake (Slatkin)
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Ballets: Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake (Slatkin) Box set


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1. The Ballets: Nutcracker / Sleeping Beauty / Swan Lake (134 tracks on 6 CD's) - Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky

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Amazon.com: 2 reviews
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Contains the Best Recording of Swan Lake Available 26 Dec. 2004
By goodmusicman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This 6-CD set of Tchaikovsky's 3 ballets contains the very best recording of the complete Swan Lake available. Antal Dorati was the best Tchaikovsky conductor, especially when it came to his ballets. His recording of Sleeping Beauty with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra is still the best one ever recorded. He also recorded the Nutcracker twice, both versions oustanding. However he only recorded Swan Lake once, in 1954, with the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra (on Mercury Living Presence), and while Dorati brings his usual flair and intensity to the score, the sound quality of the mono recording is not very pleasing and the small string section of the relatively small orchestra can't capture the lushness of the music adequately. There have been other admirable recordings but none of them ideal. Dutoit's somewhat overrated recording with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra

lacks the Russian fire the work needs, and sounds a bit too refined and bright around the edges, as though Dutoit forgot it was a Russian ballet, not a French one. Ozawa's Boston performance is solid, but both performance and sound leave something to be desired.

Slatkin's performance with the St. Loius Symphony Orchestra is exactly as it should be. Slatkin brings the necessary passion and imbues the work with a brooding atmosphere, making it sound more mature and symphonic than the other recordings. The digital sound quality of the recording is outstanding (if not audiophile quality). The Swan theme has never sounded more beautiful and the violin solos are done flawlessly. Throughout, tempos are always just right. The dances are charged with energy and the slow parts are as melodic as ever. The finale has got to be one of the most beautiful tracks of music ever recorded, with Slatkin building to a gripping climax. All in all, this is the ultimate recording of Swan Lake.

The Nutcracker too is given a more harmonious and symphonic approach than most other recordings, reminding us what a good score (not just isolated children's dances) this really is. The only real competition here are Dorati's two recordings, but neither are in digital sound and the latter one is currently out-of-print. Slatkin's performance is certainly their equal.

Slatkin's Sleeping Beauty is not as good as Dorati's, but with different tempos and digital sound, it's a worthy second choice (and first choice for those on a budget).

In sum, this CD set represents one of the greatest achievements of the Slatkin/St. Loius partnership and is the best collection of Tchaikovsky's complete 3 ballets, with the very best recording of Swan Lake out there. With the modest asking price, it's a must have for Tchaikovsky fans.
1 of 9 people found the following review helpful
The sound quality is poor, there is graininess in the bass 5 Feb. 2008
By Long - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Most of the pieces on this collection are good. However, any piece that has loud drums, the sound distorts into a grainy mess. I don't even know how the sound engineer was able to release this CD with such flaws. The bad pieces sound like someone put the bass equalizer on +20db and totally messed up the sound. I know that the problem is on my end because I have good audio equipment, and similar loud drums on other pieces do not have such distortion.

Bottom line is that if you are an audiophile of any kind, the bass distortion on many Swan Lake pieces will have you dissatisfied.
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