The Nutcracker, Op. 71 is one of the most frequently performed ballets of all. It was composed by the Russian romantic composer, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893).
The Nutcracker is based on a story by E T A Hoffman about a young girl and her Christmas presents. Despite being written near the end of Tchaikovsky’s life it evokes a suitable world of innovence where everything is just so and reflects nothing of Tchaickovsky’s misery or self-hate. This is a truly enchanting work that contains many of Tchaikovsky’s most loved tunes: notably the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy which introduced the use of the celesta into the orchestra.
Our recommended recording comes from the Mariinsky Orchestra, who know The Nutcracker like no other orchestra, and it is conducted by Valery Gergiev. It is a sumptuous performance that leaves one feeling sprinkled with star dust! It also has the advantage of excellent sound quality on SACD.
For those who wish to watch the ballet, as well as listen to the music, then once again we turn to the Mariinsky Orchestra and Valery Gergiev with the Mariinsky Ballet.
In this performance Alina Somova, as Masha the Princess, and Vladimir Shklyarov, as the Nutcracker Prince, are very well matched and their dancing is as technically proficient as it is enjoyable.
Buy it on a DVD in a newly recorded high-definition version from Presto Classical.