Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker / The Sleeping Beauty

Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
London Symphony Orchestra

1994: Philips Classics/Duo 442 562-2

    CD 1

    The Nutcracker, Op. 71

    Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Antal Dorati conducting
    Boys’ Choir of St Bavo Cathedral, Haarlem (Chorus master: Jan Valkestijn)

  1. Overture

    Act I

    Tableau I

  2. 1.  The Christmas Tree
  3. 2.  March
  4. 3.  Galop and Dance of the Parents
  5. 4.  Dance Scene - The Presents of Drosselmeyer
  6. 5.  Scene - Grandfather Dance
  7. 6.  Clara and the Nutcracker
  8. 7.  The Nutcracker battles against the Army of the Mouse King - He wins and is transformed into Prince Charming

    Tableau II

  9. 8.  In the Christmas Tree
  10. 9.  Scene and Waltz of the Snowflakes

    Act II

    Tableau III

  11. 10.  The Magic Castle on the Mountain of Sweets
  12. 11.  Clara and Prince Charming
    12.  Character Dances (Divertissement):
  13.    a.   Chocolate (Spanish Dance)
  14.    b.   Coffee (Arabian Dance)
  15.    c.   Tea (Chinese Dance)
  16.    d.   Trépak (Russian Dance)
  17.    e.   Dance of the Reed Pipes
  18.    f.   Polchinelle (The Clown)

    CD 2

    Tableau III (conclusion)

  1. 13.  Waltz of the Flowers
    14.  Pas de Deux:
  2.    a.   Intrada
  3.    b.   Variation I (Tarantella)
  4.    c.   Variation II (Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy)
  5.    d.   Coda
  6. 15.  Final Waltz and Apotheosis

    The Sleeping Beauty, Op. 66 (Highlights)

    London Symphony Orchestra, Anatole Fistoulari conducting
    Hugh Maguire, violin; Kenneth Heat, cello

  7. Introduction & Marche
  8. Scène (The Palace Garden)
  9. Waltz
  10. Aurora’s Variation
  11. Panorama
  12. Rose Adagio
  13. Polacca
  14. Vision of Aurora
  15. The Lilac Fairy
  16. The Diamond Fairy
  17. Puss in Boots
  18. Adagio
  19. Russian Dance
  20. Sarabande
  21. Finale - Apotheosis

I think the Nutcracker Suite contains some of the most beautiful music there is, and I’m not ashamed to say so. In all my decades I have never tired of hearing the “Waltz of the Flowers,” the exquisite “Coffee (Arabian Dance),” the “March,” and, believe it or not, even the ubiquitous “Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy.” And, to this day, I perk up and become a child again upon hearing the first few notes of the “Overture.” (Granted, it helps that I am almost never exposed to horrendous and cheesy adaptations of the pieces and am instead hearing fully legitimate orchestral performances.) I also particularly love the orchestration of the magnificently effective sequence of string-section runs that first happen midway through the piece—all the more thrilling in well-recorded stereo which allows the runs to seemingly whip around the listen’s head like a whirlwind of snow.