Valery Gergiev / Mariinsky (Kirov) Theater Orchestra

Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4; The Nutcracker

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Valery Gergiev last recorded The Nutcracker ballet in 1998, and for those who bought his approach to the music, that version has remained a favorite. This new release, well recorded in SACD sound at the Mariinsky Theatre concert hall, offers the right blend of something new and something continued. The complete Nutcracker is a weightier, more symphony-like work than the familiar Suite, which extracts the tunes from a substantially larger structure. Gergiev in 1998 emphasized the weight of the complete ballet, taking urgently fast tempos (the entire Nutcracker barely fit on a single CD) and letting the famous melodies appear as moments of repose. Here, with his hand-shaped Mariinsky Orchestra, Gergiev eases up by a few minutes on the speed and lets the strings luxuriate in the silky textures of which they are capable. This version will appeal more to casual Nutcracker fans. Yet in other ways this is pure Gergiev. To fill out the second CD you get a quite grand reading of the Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op. 36, not the darkest, but the most epically Beethovenian of Tchaikovsky's six, and the fundamental emphases of the work remain in place. You get the feeling that Gergiev still wanted to assert the Russianness of the work, despite all its international flavors. Sample the Arabian dance "Coffee" to hear a representative slice of Gergiev's style and also to admire the Mariinsky engineering, which lets small shades of texture through to the listener. Heartily recommended.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
The Nutcracker, Op. 71
1 03:27 Amazon
2 03:43 Amazon
3 02:26 Amazon
4 02:18 Amazon
5 05:05 Amazon
6 06:16 Amazon
7 06:59 Amazon
8 03:11 Amazon
9 03:25 Amazon
10 06:07 Amazon
11 03:48 Amazon
12 04:18 Amazon
13 01:05 Amazon
14 02:37 Amazon
15 01:19 Amazon
16 01:06 Amazon
17 02:20 Amazon
18 02:29 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
The Nutcracker, Op. 71
1 07:36 Amazon
2 05:39 Amazon
3 00:35 Amazon
4 02:03 Amazon
5 01:23 Amazon
6 03:21 Amazon
7 01:28 Amazon
Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op. 36
8 19:16 Amazon
9 11:27 Amazon
10 05:32 Amazon
11 08:29 Amazon
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