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Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker (Experience Edition with Hardcover Book) [Double CD]

Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky , Simon Rattle , Berliner Philharmoniker Audio CD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
Price: £18.95 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Product details

  • Orchestra: Berliner Philharmoniker
  • Conductor: Simon Rattle
  • Composer: Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky
  • Audio CD (1 Nov 2010)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Double CD
  • Label: EMI Classics
  • ASIN: B003XX2OAU
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 26,251 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Disc: 1
1. Miniature Overture
2. No. 1 - The Decoration of the Christmas Tree
3. No. 2 - March
4. No. 3 - Children's Galop and Entry of the Parents
5. No. 4 - Arrival of Drosselmeyer
6. No. 5 - Scene - Grandfather's Dance
7. No. 6 - Clara and the Nutcracker
8. No. 7 - The Battle
9. No. 8 - In the Pine Forest
10. No. 9 - Waltz of the Snowflakes
Disc: 2
1. No. 10 - The Kingdom of Sweets
2. No. 11 - 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. No. 13 - Waltz of the Flowers
10. No. 14 - Pas de deux
See all 14 tracks on this disc

Product Description

BBC Review

Simon Rattle has produced a conception-buster of a disc here. As a general rule, The Nutcracker feels like the comfort blanket of the ballet repertoire: a much-loved, known quantity of solid, 19th century sumptous prettiness. However, Rattle has taken his expertise in early 20th century music and brilliantly applied it backwards to Tchaikovsky. The result is enlightening. You clearly hear how Act I inspired Stravinsky when writing Petrushka, and there's also more than a whisper of Ravel in the overall tone of bright, nostalgic modernity.

The Nutcracker's action is set on Christmas Eve, when Clara is given a nutcracker toy by her mysterious godfather. At midnight the toy comes alive. After Clara helps him to conquor the evil Mouse King in battle, he turns into a prince and leads her to the Land of Sweets, where the Sugar Plum Fairy treats them to a series of fantastic dances. These dances make up one of the few balletic divertissements (diversions from the main plot) that is indisputably integral to the evenings enjoyment, rather than the cue for non-hardcore ballet fans to start clock-watching. The reason is that they include many of the most memorable and popular pieces in the whole classical canon, such as Waltz of the Flowers and Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. It's so infectiously, festively fun that even the Berlin Philharmoniker, famed more for their rich, smooth perfection than for letting their hair down, has fallen into party mode, albeit of the cocktail rather than the student shin-dig variety. The Battle crackles brightly with military tension, half-aware that the most deadly weapon will turn out to be a thrown slipper. Later, in the smouldering coffee dance, the clarinet langourously rises and snakes over the orchestra like an exotic swirl of steam rising up from the dark spiciness of the cup beneath.

The recording is released in three editions. Whilst the single-CD edition contains musical highlights, this performance is worth owning in full. Of the two double-CD, complete-work options, there is a Standard Edition or an Experience Edition, the latter of which includes a larger hardback book, greater online content, and a free 24-hour pass to the Berlin Philharmoniker's online concert hall.

--Charlotte Gardner

Find more music at the BBC This link will take you off Amazon in a new window

Product Description

2CD Berlin P.O.2Cd+Book

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
As a young child, I was fascinated by the Nutcracker. When I heard that Sir Simon Rattle and the mighty Berlin Philharmonic had recorded this masterpiece, I couldn't wait to check it out. And I am quite glad I did. This is a recording that is full of amazing detail and precision - even the negative reviewers admit this. While some have accused this recording of being too "relaxed and uneventful", I find this recording to be full of drama and excitement. Sure, some numbers come across better than others; the "Overture" and "March", as reviewer Santa Fe Listener pointed out, are less than the best. But this is more than made up for with some of the other movements - the "Waltz of the Snowflakes", with the famed boy-choir Libera, is hair-raising.

Other reviewers have commented on Rattle's Tchaikovsky track record - he hasn't done much of him. So it shouldn't be much of a surprise that when he finally turned to him, he would provide a bit of a new look at the composer's music. As much of a Rattle fan as I am, it took me a bit of listening to appreciate it. I found it, well, quite shocking. Rattle certainly wasn't trying to mimic the standard Nutcracker performance and his new approach took some time for me to get used to. But after I adjusted to it, I came to love it more than my other Nutcracker recordings, which are also excellent. Rattle pulls wonderful detail from Berlin (talk about a great orchestra)!, but he avoids sentimentality. Berlin's players are, as always, marvelous - you will likely notice passages that you never noticed before. The 1st oboist, Albrecht Mayer, is especially good.

I dare say that this a must-have. While it may not replace your favorite Nutcracker recordings (although it might), it will provide hours of listening pleasure.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cracking the Nut 13 Dec 2011
By Entartete Musik TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Verified Purchase
In many ways recordings of the Tchaikovsky ballet scores feel wholly bizarre to those who know the ballets in performance. Played at markedly faster tempi, what is pulled around in order to deliver a ream of pirouettes can now be sculpted and performed in its own right. The works deserve no less; by far Tchaikovsky's most original scores, he made a brilliant case for a neglected genre (think only of Minkus's dreary log jam of waltzes for La bayadère) with the dark-hued Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty's symphonism and The Nutcracker's percussive thrill. Without his and Petipa's dancing equivalent of the Mozart/Da Ponte trilogy, there could have been no Ballets Russes, no Prokofiev and no Balanchine.

Simon Rattle has been a Tchaikovsky skeptic to date and the composer's work has been conspicuously absent from his Birmingham or Berlin programming. Reminded that Petrushka had to come from somewhere, Rattle rethought his avoidance of the composer's music and The Nutcracker was the backbone of the Berliner Philharmoniker's 2009 New Year's Eve concerts. The results have been released by EMI in time for Christmas and it is a serious contender for benchmark status, threatening to knock Gergiev's Mariinsky edition off its perch.

Like Daphnis et ChloŽ, there's something of the mechanical about the piece, echoing the wooden joints of its eponymous hero. Yet the key to the work is to move from the picture-perfect poise of the 'Miniature Overture' and deliver the emotional spirit of the end of the first Act. Dainty at first, the Philharmoniker then relishes the score, with thick strident dances at the Stahlbaums' party and luscious rocking strings as the children are taken up to bed. It makes for a sumptuous reading, with a brilliant metallic overcoat.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Nutcracker as pure music-not the ballet. 24 Mar 2011
By D. S. CROWE TOP 500 REVIEWER
Verified Purchase
I am frankly astounded by Mr Haegeman's review of this recording and performance, both of which are superb. This is certainly not a run through of the ballet score-Rattle sees the work in far more symphonic terms, and the music is unveiled as much more than accompaniment to the dance-and unveiled is the correct term. In particular, Act One which the aforementioned reviewer denigrates, is a complete triumph, admittedly not the conventional view, but especially effective precisely because of that.
If you are looking for a jolly Christmas treat,a souvenir of a trip to a seasonal performance, this might disappoint. If you are looking for a hitherto unexpected revelatory and insightful performance of music you may not have thought of as truly great, then you will be delighted by this recording, as I was and am. The playing of the BPO is sumptuous and "perfumed" in exactly the right degree. Not necessarily a performance for balletomanes, but for music lovers, essential listening.
This set has given me genuine and unexpected delight-highly recommended in its 2 disc format.Stewart Crowe.
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