WORKS: The Nutcracker
PERFORMER: London Philharmonic/Mariss Jansons
CATALOGUE NO: CDS 7 54600 2 DDD
This is Tchaikovsky at his most witty and lighthearted, and, from the moment the strings play the overture’s enchanting music for the ball scene, this recording has a style and elegance that is absolutely right. Jansons sets lively tempi (somewhat too lively for the ‘Waltz of the Snowflakes’), but his committed reading concentrates attention on just what a wonderful score this is.
The London Philharmonic is in excellent form. In a spirited ‘Waltz of the Flowers’, an exuberant ‘Spanish Dance’ and a restrained, almost melancholic, ‘Sugar Plum Fairy’, the familiar music comes over with unerring freshness and energy. The woodwind section, especially, play gloriously in the ‘Chinese’ and ‘Russian’ dances. The New London Children’s Choir is also on good form, the sound never becoming too saccharine as can so easily happen.
The orchestra is at its combined best in the grand ‘Pas de deux’. After a triumphant introduction by the harps (which are heard to excellent effect elsewhere, notably in the ‘Waltz of the Snowflakes’), the music is allowed to unfold with grace and majesty. A strongly recommended recording. If it only sounded like this in the theatre! Alasdair Steven