CD Review:

Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky - The Nutcracker (Label: Philips)
Valery Gergiev
Kirov Orchestra

Confused about The Nutcracker, The Nutcracker Suite and The Nutcracker ballet? Are they created from the same source? or do they just happened to share the same title? You are not alone. As I was writing, I discovered my 6-year old daughter reading a book titled ‘Barbie in the Nutcracker’. It added on to my queries. ‘How did Barbie come into connection with The Nutcracker clan? Sharing my queries? The answer reveals.

The Nutcracker, a story originally titled as ‘The Nutcracker and the Mouse King’, was written by E.T.A. Hoffmann in 1816. Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, together with choreographers Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov, adapted the story in 1891-92, and turned it into a ballet,
Op. 71, a fairytale ballet in two acts, three scenes. The music set to The Nutcracker ballet is what we commonly known as The Nutcracker.

The Nutcracker Suite, however, is a collection of the most popular numbers from the fairy-tale ballet, The Nutcracker, put together by Tchaikovsky before the ballet premiere. A perennial Christmas classics, whose popularity has now, perhaps eclipsed that of the ballet itself.

In the original story ‘The Nutcracker and the Mouse King’, Clara’s Christmas present from her favourite aunt - a Nutcracker, turned into a prince. Barbie was cast as Clara.

There are numerous fine recordings of The Nutcracker and one that had remain as my first choice, even till today, is the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with Ashkenazy. However, this CD is not so commonly available lately.

The complete Nutcracker Suite recorded in one single CD is another plus of this recording as it is remarkably convenient for anyone who wants a continuous listening experience.

This is an excellent record of supreme clarity and purity. For a delicious interpretation of ‘The Nutcracker’, this CD is
highly recommendable.

n this disc, Gergiev leads the Kirov Orchestra into some exciting and beautiful playing. Tremendously outstanding playings aside, the orchestra is attentive to all details, though the tempo might appear a little too brisk as compared to a few other recordings. However, it flows beautifully and it is not too rush for my liking. Instead, the fast tempi had sparkled clarity of vividness and brimming energy which I have yet to come across in other recordings.  

~ Written by Boon Sin Ler

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