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Exquisite version and production
on 6 December 2011
The words `fresh' and `exquisite' seemed to be most appropriate to me as I watched this version of the Nutcracker yet again last night. This is the version choreographed by Grigorovich for the Bolshoi Ballet and as such, has its own particular view which differs from others in various respects. The booklet notes describe the story and list the sections within the ballet but there is no information given about this choreography.
In this version the little girl is called Marie rather than Clara. The conflict between the Nutcracker and the Mouse King is finally resolved at the beginning of the second act instead of concluding in Act 1. The character dances are more clearly shown to be dolls and this section also includes a `French dance'. All of these dances are depicted without an audience watching on stage as happens in some versions so there is a greater focus on the dancing dolls themselves. They are beautifully choreographed and danced and have considerable freshness in their clean-lined nature. There is no Sugar Plum Fairy in this version but the same music is used for Marie. `Exquisite' is an entirely appropriate word to describe her variation and its performance. `Enchanting' would be another. Either way I found that I did not miss the Sugar Plum Fairy and felt fully compensated for her absence.
Grigorovich is a master of the large set-piece scenario as can be seen in his `Spartacus' ballet and this characteristic of his work is shown to great effect in the corps de ballet sections. The Waltz of the Snowflakes at the end of Act 1 and the Waltz of the Flowers in Act 2 are particularly pretty and the final waltz and Apotheosis are completely effective.
The Star role of Marie (Nina Kaptsova) is exquisitely performed with utter grace throughout and she is well supported by her Nutcracker Prince (Artem Ovcharenko) who is suitably athletic when given the chance. Drosselmeyer is effective without being slightly menacing as in some versions as are the Mouse King and his mice. The staging and the costumes are all one could wish for and the tree does not disappoint. The whole effect is one of utter prettiness and the fairy tale atmosphere is created and sustained throughout. This is a very kind and magical concept.
The imaging is very crisp and with vibrant colours. The camera work gives a nice balance between close and panoramic shots. The sound reveals the excellence of the Bolshoi orchestra under Pavel Klinichev and is presented in DTS-HD and stereo. The recording was made in 2010.
I have enjoyed this version of the Nutcracker very much indeed. It seems to me to be every bit as enjoyable in its own way as the well-known Royal Ballet version by Peter Wright. It would therefore be a fine alternative or additional version to own and should give great pleasure to purchasers. In my opinion, it is certainly worthy of 5 stars.