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You're missing an alternative, tjh:
It could be that the tunefulness of a work has absolutely no bearing on its lightness. In other words, when we list the criteria which determine the lightness of a given piece, tunefulness will not figure on that list. In which case, your argument, insofar as I understand it, fails.
That's me done, as far as this debate goes, tjh. Have a nice Christmas......
So, tjh, till our new friend Franz enumerates his "criteria" of "lightness of a given piece" (which I doubt we will ever agree upon), no discussion is needed. I wonder then why this discussion has started in the first place and, much more, why he did contributed in.
And, of course, there is still pending my last question "does it matter?
In the absence of any expected reply and in view of the Season of Goodwill, for the moment, please, dear forum members, accept my best wishes for Merry Christmas to all of you.
I agree to a good extent w/ Jane on her comments about Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker: see, perhaps I am a bit of a snob too. I have only the Gergiev's (somewhat rushed) reading on Philips besides a couple of concert suites recordings (Bernstein's....). This is a work I visit once on a couple of years basis just as Franz put it.
On the other hand, still inside the Russian composer's output, I must add that I got many more recordings of the interesting Serenade for Strings.
I hope I didn't give the impression that I was sneering, Drinkwine. If so, I must have expressed myself badly.
I certainly don't sneer at anyone who likes such marvellous music. I was just genuinely surprised that anyone would care about different versions all that much. What is the difference between a good and a bad Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy? To me, not enough to buy another CD. The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy is the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. My point, perhaps, is that it is not the kind of music which opens up much room for interpretative differences. Or so I would have thought. Maybe I need to listen harder.
That said, I take your point about personal influences and experiences. In my case, however, I tend to avoid anything that reminds me of my childhood.....
I love the LSO/Mackerras recording. Not sure if it is available in CD format, but it is available digitally. Something magical about it :-).
The BPO/Rattle recording is stunning. The quality of the playing makes an objective response difficult! I personally love the cumulative sense of drama in Act 1. There is so much character throughout. The dances of Act 2 are played beyond technical reproach. Is the interpretation too sophisticated/mature? I am not sure, but like many BPO/Rattle recordings, it is difficult to listen to the music in quite the same way again.
"The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" has been transcribed quite a few times for various combinations and instruments (along with other pieces of the Ballet as well as the Sleeping Beauty), so that it can be a bit more than a...tautology!
Even much "lighter" pieces in Classical Music, such as the "Eine kleine Nachtmusik" or "Die Fledermaus" are prone to various performances and interpretations.
Jane, your comments did seem a bit snarky, but apology accepted. I tend to listen to the Nutcracker but once a year, but I enjoy the differing interpretations - viz, the sumptuous, glorious Previn as opposed to the Gergiev - crackling, with energy and vitality. As I said different recordings and interpretations allow me to hear a piece differently, and I enjoy that, whether I agree with the interpretation or not. I don't need to collect everything; I've "enjoyed" hearing Lang Lang on the radio, and he's entitled to his interpretation, but I can't ever imagine going to hear him live or buying any of his recordings. (His manager is a friend of mine; we just passionately disagree.)
I have far more multiple recordings of various pieces by Mahler, Shostakovich, and Schubert, say, than of the Nutcracker. As for "Eine Kleine" and much of music before development of the modern instruments, performances on period instruments and such offer perspective. I can read music, but cannot "hear" a work by reading a score, and appreciate how different performances may privelege specific instruments or sections of the orchestra. Similarly, I have way too much high-end hifi gear, but it is great fun to hear how different arrangements of audio components deliver different sonic expressions of the same LP or CD. At a minimum, it all refines my aural faculties.
In defense of Tchaikovsky and his wonderful Nutcracker ballet, let me very poorly paraphrase Maestro Toscanini when some individual was criticising a Rossini overture to him-Maestro simply is reported to have said-"you write one."
My all time favorite Nutcracker recording is the soundtrack to Mikhail Baryshnikov's production of the ballet in 1977. Conductor Kenneth Schermerhorn and the National Philharmonic give a stellar performance. First, Schermerhorn is a ballet conductor so all the dances are at a dancer's tempi. Nothing is rushed. He perfectly captures the magical atmosphere of the score and the orchestra plays superbly. The Snowflake walts ends in a thrilling blizzard, the battle scene is exciting. But the great bloom at the center of the recording is the opulently romantic and dramatic Pas de Deux which is one of Tchaikovsky's masterpieces. The tempo is perfect and the piece is the climax of the ballet as it should be. It's a terrible shame that the recording came out on LP when the ballet was broadcast on CBS in 1977 but was never transferred to CD. There is no Nutracker to compete with it, IMO.
I presume, celesta, you have listened to every single existing and deleted recording of this quite popular and often recorded work (only the last couple of years we had two new SACD recordings with Jarvi and Gergiev), so that you could come to this definitive conclusion about this particular recording of 1977, that was never released on CD. If not, the last sentence was not necessary.
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