Gustavo Dudamel / Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra

Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker

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This live recording of The Nutcracker (in full, on two CDs) was made in 2013. It's not clear whether it was held for release in 2018 to coordinate with the release of the film The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, for which Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic recorded the music, or whether it was simply pulled out of the vault at that time. In either event, the engineering captures the crackling edge of Los Angeles' Disney Hall, with the strings sounding big and shiny but never overwhelming the delicate wind work. Indeed, the orchestra's wind section is evolving under Dudamel into one of the great ones, capable of a large variety of accents and sounds. Sample "The Nutcracker Battles the Army of the Mouse King," which has a brisk precision characteristic of the whole. You couldn't play this on a portable CD player for young dancers; Dudamel's tempi are on the fast side, and he slows down only for the "Arabian Dance" (a very seductive coffee) and a few other melodic numbers. But the performance will have you tapping your feet at many points. There are, no doubt, other Nutcrackers to suit every conceivable taste, and you might find broader, more Russian treatments of Tchaikovsky's melodies. But it's hard to imagine anyone not enjoying Dudamel's work here.

Track Listing - Disc 2

Title/Composer Performer Time
Nutcracker, Op. 71
1 4:18
2 4:47
3 1:11
4 4:00
5 1:04
6 1:09
7 2:21
8 2:42
9 7:30
10 5:13
11 0:46
12 2:21
13 1:23
14 5:17
blue highlight denotes track pick