CD Review: Highlights from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker

Highlights from the Nutcracker Ballet

This is a CD of highlights from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Ballet.  For those that are not familiar with the story, it follows the the adventures of young Clara (sometimes called Maria) and her toy nutcracker that has been magically turned into a prince.  They travel to the land of sweets and encounter dancing snowflakes, waltzing flowers, dancers from various countries, and the Sugarplum Fairy and her Prince, among other characters.  Then at the end Clara is magically returned to her house on Christmas Eve, and the Prince is turned back into the Nutcracker.

This is a nice CD to have if you have ever seen the ballet, because you can use it to remember your favorite parts.  Even if you haven’t seen the ballet, you can just enjoy the music, especially since the music closely follows the story of the ballet.  For instance, the the Waltz of Flowers sounds like a waltz, and the dances from different countries all sound different. It seems that every Nutcracker highlights CD has slightly different selections.  This one is a mix of standard selections (such as the Snowflakes Waltz and Dance of the Flowers), but other things are omitted, like the Spanish Dance.  I’m sure there must be a recording of the complete ballet that one can get, but I never see it around.  This particular version is imported from Canada, and is performed by the Northstar Orchestra.

The tracks are:

1) Overture
2) Exit of Guests/Night
3) Battle
4) Snowflakes Walse
5) Entrance of Clara and the Nutcracker
6) Arab Dance
7) Chinese Dance
8) Russian Dance
9) Shepherd’s Dance
10) Mama Zhigole and Clowns
11) Dance of the Flowers
12) Pas De Deux:  Fairy Drazhe and Prince Orshad
13) Final Walse/ Apotheosis

Reference:  Northstar Orchestra, Classical Christmas: Highlights from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker (Westmount, Quebec, Canada: Direct Source Special Products, Inc., 1998).

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