Notes & Reviews:
This special, limited edition 2-CD set features a 52-page hardcover book detailing the history and context of the work through photographs, illustrations, essays as well as an introduction from Sir Simon Rattle himself. The Experience Edition also includes exclusive video footage from both Sir Simon Rattle and members of the orchestra explaining the enduring popularity of this work and their experience in recording the work, a special 24-hour guest pass to the BPO’s Digital Concert Hall, photos and more.
Tchaikovsky's most famous work, The Nutcracker, is presented in this stunning new recording by the world's greatest orchestra, the Berliner Philharmoniker, under the baton of their celebrated conductor Sir Simon Rattle. This musical fairytale follows Clara and her unusual prince and protector, The Nutcracker, through adventures and exotic delights in the magical Kingdom of Sweets. The Nutcracker is the most popular ballet, and its annual holiday performances have become a treasured tradition the world over. This release features the live recording of Act II from December 2009's Silvesterkonzert, Germany's New Year's celebrations. Act I was recorded in the studio during the same period.
"Complete with well illustrated 52-page booklet and a touching introduction by Simon Rattle explaining how, after initial resistance, he came to love Tchaikovsky's music, this complete Nutcracker ballet is glorious. The quality of the Berliners' playing is unrivalled, with some of the best woodwind you'll ever hear. Strings are warm and precise, with cellos unfurling passionately in the Pas de Deux. Brass, too, is golden-toned and characterful. Act I was recorded in the studio, Act II is live. Rattle renewed his contract with EMI last year. This is one of the fruits, not to say – bearing in mind that famous chocolate ad which borrowed the Dance of the Reed Pipes – nuts, of that long association." -The Guardian
"The wealth of melodies contained in The Nutcracker, is all the more remarkable, as Simon Rattle suggests, for the depressive state of its composer. Besides the featherlight celesta of "Dance Of The Sugar-Plum Fairy", there's the tiptoeing woodwind of "Dance Of The Reeds", and the en pointe pizzicato of "Tea: Chinese Dance", its high woodwind and glockenspiel so delicately presented here before the dramatic gusto of the equally familiar "Trepak: Russian Dance". Rattle and the Berliner Philharmoniker enter fully into the spirit of things, infusing the classic "March" with a lovely toytown pomp. Delightful." -The Independent
"Rattle is always heartfelt and expansive, and the playing of the Berliners is glorious" -The Sunday Times
Classic FM Magazine
There are certain things one can take for granted with a Berlin Phil recording. The silky sheen of the upper strings, the accuracy of the ensemble playing, the variety of tonal colours in the woodwind, the now mellow-now-blazing brass playing - and they're all here on this highly enjoyable performance.
Those of us who have always loved it can breathe again. It's good to welcome Rattle to the Nutcracker fold, especially as he, too, seems to have fallen in love with Tchaikovsky's astonishingly original score...the Berlin strings are simply gorgeous. Rattle keeps a tight rein on the dramatic action of Act I and revels in the popular character dances of Act II
Rattle seems happiest conducting the darker, more fantastical scenes of Act One. He certainly relishes the Drosselmeyer character...characterised with grotesque, brusque chords. Elsewhere the Miniature Overture, defying the acoustic, keeps bright and perky; while the Snow King and Queen's waltz almost reaches the succulent kiss of Richard Strauss.
The playing of the Berlin Philharmonic is superb, the precision and articulation of the woodwind and of the first oboe, in particular, a delight; every detail is there, perfectly realised and balanced.
The Independent on Sunday
This is a high-definition, low-camp midnight feast. The bravura sequence of dances in Confiturembourg has authentic fizz: the shrill Chinese Dance comes with a peppery underpinning of bassoons, while the celesta in Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy acquires an almost sinister glow.
The Berlin Philharmonic plays superbly, Rattle characterising the first act's scenario and its emotional fluxes with a sure hand and finding a deft touch for the dances in the second. This is a performance that really makes The Nutcracker come alive as a dramatic and musical entity.
There is a consistent sense here that Rattle has the consistent scenario and its detail firmly in view, so that the children's fluctuating emotions of wonderment, vexation and disappointment are clearly etched in...this magnificent recording underlines its magical and musical magnetism.
Complete with well illustrated 52-page booklet and a touching introduction by Simon Rattle explaining how, after initial resistance, he came to love Tchaikovsky's music, this complete Nutcracker ballet is glorious. The quality of the Berliners' playing is unrivalled, with some of the best woodwind you'll ever hear.
In his Birmingham days Sir Simon showed a distinct coolness about Russian Romantic music, but here he lavishes care over the Tchaikovsky ballet most closely associated with Christmas. The opportunity to hear his virtuoso Berliners in the Act 2 dances is not to be passed up, but it's very much a concert reading.
Recording information: Philharmonie, Berlin (12/29/2009-12/31/2009).
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Works DetailsTchaikovsky, Peter Ilyich : Nutcracker Suite, Op. 71a
- Conductor: Simon Rattle
- Notes: Philharmonie, Berlin (12/29/2009-12/31/2009)
- Running Time: 81 min. 31 sec.
- Period Time: Romantic
- Form: Ballet
- Written: 1892