Nutcracker Recordings

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Nutcracker Recordings

I've had a long tradition of seeing and/or listening to the full Nutcracker Ballet every year around this time.  I've always been partial to the glorious and detailed performance conducted by Previn on Angel (LP).  In recent years I've been riveted by the energy and excitement of Gergiev's performance (CD).  This year, for a switch, I returned to Dorati's performance with the Concertgebouw (LP), which I've not listed to for years, and which never moved me.  I recently added a Naim Prefix phono-pre to my Linn LP12, so I was very excited to hear this on my new rig.  I was left as unengaged as before.  Anybody have any insight into this recording, or am I just not hearing something?  And I'm curious what others think of the Rattle performance, or others I've not bothered to consider.  

RE: Nutcracker Recordings

I`ve always enjoyed Ansermet`s performance on Decca.It was the first Nutcracker released in stereo.Has a lot of charm and is well recorded and played.

RE: Nutcracker Recordings

Drinkwine, in my LP years, Previn and Dorati as well as Ansermet were all "first choices" for projecting different and various aspects of the beauty of this eternal score. In the CD era, they may seem a bit "outdated", but at least Previn sounds...adequate enough.

From this generation, one should not overlook Bonynge recording for Decca. Apart from Opera, Bonynge adored and liked to show, from time to time, his commitment to Ballet as well. His Nutcracker is a masterful balletic reading, in a very good recording (despite its age and the CD format). In this field of "international" view of the work, Rattle with BPO is in quite convincing form. The great German Orchestra seems to love the work and the result is obvious, in an impressive recording by the defunct EMI.

Then, we have the "Russian" readings (and recordings). For the more glossy and glamorous in sound and production, Gergiev (on the long defunct Philips) is solid and bright, without avoiding some of his mannerisms, in a superb recording. A sort of maverick experience but always interesting comes from Mikhail Pletnev and the Russian National Orchestra, in a fairly realistic recording of Ondine. For a more spectacular product (and not that unconvincing performance), one can rely on Pentatone's very impressive SACD recording with Alexander Vedernikov and the Orchrestra of the Bolshoi Theatre. With the same Orchestra, G. Rozhdestvensky gives a traditional very Russian performance, in an above average recording on Melodiya.

A wonderful Ballet for all times and for more and more listening from various "sources".

Parla

RE: Nutcracker Recordings

Dorati also made an earlier recording with the London Symphony for Mercury Living Presence.It benefits from very clear and immediate sonics.It is 80 minutes in duration,about the same as Gergiev`s performance.It could have been squeezed on to one cd but is coupled with another work.The Pentatone SACD that Parla mentions,I find to be one of,if not the,most distant sounding recordings in my collection.The Mercury recording is far more impressive sonically speaking in my opinion,as is the Decca cd with Ansermet for that matter.I usually love SACD recordings,but not this Nutcracker on Pentatone.As a point of reference,that Gergiev recording sounds very vivid and well balanced.

RE: Nutcracker Recordings

If I were obliged to move to a desert island, I would select the Ansermet recording as the only one of many performances of the Nutcracker that I own to take with me. The recording has superb dynamic range, and a crisp sparkle, which is essential in ballet music.

I do have both the Previn and Mercury Dorati in my collection. These together with the Ansermet recording are ongoing examples of very high quality analogue recordings, combined with a scrupulous attention to the printed musical score.

Ironically, I do live on an island. The island of Maui, Hawaii. But it is not a desert island.

Everyone, enjoy the approaching holiday seasonal activities.   Irvine Shamrock

 

Irvine Shamrock

RE: Nutcracker Recordings

It depends what one may call as "light" in Classical Music, Jane. For Ballet music The Nutcracker is a quite substantive, solid and great score of eternal beauty and influence. From that perspective, I do believe any recording that can throw some more or different light to it is worthwhile for further exploration.

The Pentatone recording sounds quite convincingly in my hi-end equipment, but I admit that the early Pentatone recordings, in certain equipments, gave this feeling of "distant recordings" (e.g. Dvorak's 9th with Kreizberg compared to his 8th few years later). Perhaps, Gergiev might be the easy way out, if the two other Russians (Fedosseyev, etc.) are not served in glorious well-defined sound (Melodiya, Relief etc.).

Parla

RE: Nutcracker Recordings

Not snobbery, Chris, but an honest critical opinion. Not the same thing at all, thankyou.

RE: Nutcracker Recordings

Of course, I would never dare to call anything Jane delivers as "snobbery" and I do believe everything she utters is "honest". However, to call "critical opinion" that this Ballet is "a bit light"...is somehow too ambitious for an...opinion. I'm pretty confident that our esteemed forum member can develop her argumentation to that effect so that this opinion can become more than "critical". As it stands, though, it can be taken even as snobbery or a mere "preference"...

From my perspective, a work, which even by Jane's admission is "brilliantly orchestrated and astoundingly melodious", is already too serious to be taken "lightly". If the form and structure are not that "great", it won't change much. It is a Ballet and the composer has to deal with the format, the rules, the conventions and the needs of the genre. Otherwise, most of these "adorable" Operas from Baroque to the Wagner era can be easily categorized as "light as a feather" (some are poorly or conventionally orchestrated and not always astoundingly melodious).

Finally, a work that can touch almost the whole globe espousing its beauty, charm and musicality, it may be considered and treated a bit less...lightly!

Parla

RE: Nutcracker Recordings

On the money, tjh!

Scherbet, Nutcracker is not only "the kind of music one gives to children to encourage them to like classical music". Most of the musicians, serious listeners/collectors and a wide variety of audience listen to it with enough eagerness. As for how often one can listen to it, this might be tricky. I know quite a few people (collectors or serious listeners or frequent audience members) who do not dare to visit but only rarely the Late String Quartets by Beethoven or Wagner's Tristan and Parsifal or Bach's Art of Fugue. They claim the "burden" of preparing yourself for such works is too "heavy"...

Sometimes, "light" means serious! (and as Satie once said: Truth, sometimes, can be naive).

Parla

RE: Nutcracker Recordings

I did not invite you to any discussion, Franz. I just responded (as you did with your "comment") by stating certain facts I happen to have experienced (unless "experience" is plagiarism too) in quite a few years of dealing (not only listening to) with Classical Music.

In any case, whether we embark on a "discussion" or not with anyone here, apparently, we are still trying to address the "lightness" of an established Classic.

By the way, "Eine kleine Nachtmusic" is another established Classic. Is it "light" too and, eventually, does it matter? (That's the actual question and you do not have to address me).

Parla

RE: Nutcracker Recordings

No, tjh, I didn't. You are illegitimately combining two discrete propositions:

1. The Nutcracker has enjoyable tunes

2. The Nutcracker is "light".

At no point did I suggest that the second proposition was based on the first.

If you are really interested in this argument, tjh, you might think about taking up logic. I can suggest some introductory texts if you like.

 

 

 

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