Tchaikovsky's Full-Length Nutcracker

The Russian National Orchestra bring this magical ballet to life.

Composer: Tchaikovsky

Repertoire: The Nutcracker
Artists: Russian National Orchestra/Mikhail Pletnev
Rating: 4/5

Genre: Orchestral

Label: Ondine ODE1180-2D

The Music: It’s mystifying that Tchaikovsky’s final ballet wasn’t an immediate success at its St Petersburg premiere in 1892, although the composer confessed early on that he thought it infinitely poorer than Sleeping Beauty, and referred to it as reheated dishes. The full score reveals the proper scale for this masterpiece in storytelling.

The Performance: There’s no hint of serving up old or reheated fare from the Russian National Orchestra under founder and artistic director Pletnev, despite the fact that this must be grindingly familiar ground. Together they more than meet the challenge of lifting the entire score into a coherent whole beyond the familiar extracts of the shorter Suite. The dances from Act 2 are full of wit and sparkle, and the children’s choir singing the ‘Dance of the Snowflakes’ adds a lovely heart-warming touch without any extra saccharine from the Kingdom of Sweets! 

The Verdict: Tchaikovsky’s magical story comes to life as Pletnev reasserts his reputation as an outstanding ballet conductor. The delightfully detailed playing from the orchestra brings these enchanting characters to life, in a well paced, elegant narrative. 

Want More? Full-length ballet scores may have a limited appeal, but the same orchestra under Pletnev delivers Swan Lake with vivacious energy (Ondine, 1167-2D).