Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Tchaikovsky, Vedernikov, Bolshoi Orchestra|
Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker [Complete Ballet] [Hybrid SACD]
Listen to Samples
Bolshoi, Vedernikov: A Nutcracker For Many Reasons In All Ou
Dan Fee | Berkeley, CA USA | 03/17/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In USA we have come to associate the Tchaikovsky ballet, the Nutcracker, with the holiday season in November-December-January. Whether you call this season Christmas, Hanukkah, Winter Festival, or something else, if you live in a large USA city with a professional ballet company, chances are very high that they will be giving the Tchaikovsky Nutcracker.
Too bad dear old gay Tchaikovsky is not still alive to be an icon of the gay pride parades while he rides in a solid gold pink Cadillac down main streets in San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Boston, Atlanta, Saint Louis, Miami, Dallas, to show off his royalty monies, maybe.
And at first glance, Russian pride of show seems to be the point here. We get a real, working professional Russian opera and ballet orchestra from the Bolshoi Theater, Moscow. Our conductor is the current Bolshoi music director (since 2001), the gifted and brilliant Alexander Vedernikov. And our engineers are the redoubtable multi-channel super audio team from Polyhymnia in the Netherlands who are doing about as much as anybody else ever has to bring us the best Russian orchestras and soloists now playing or singing before the public.
The bottom line here is nothing but sheer musical magic.
My previous fav sets of the Nutcracker have been the two outings led by Antal Dorati, one with the LSO on old Mercury Living Presence LP's, and the other with the Royal Concertgebouworkest which also came out in the vinyl era, I think. When CD's came along, both of these recordings were quickly transferred to the new format, and now although the CGBO reading lags behind, the LSO reading has also been transferred to super audio.
I can listen to quite a range of approaches in this music, since after all, it is a ballet and probably has had its tempos and textures adjusted in live performance, as many different times as different star soloists and ballet companies have danced it. That said, a recording is above all an auditory outing, like hearing the full ballet performed in a concert setting.
Marvelously, what the band and conductor give us here is a lovely combination of all the best traditions and approaches.
For one thing, since Vedernikov's claim to fame is that he leads real world opera and ballet, all over the world now (including Milan's La Scala), we can hear a reading grounded in the real world in a real music hall. The technical notes are not exact, but it seems as if the venue here is indeed the Bolshoi Theater. Its probable recreation in your own home theater five channel listening room will be subtle, but full, present, vivid, and vital. Bravo, Polyhymnia team.
Like the famed Antal Dorati, Vedernikov encompasses this ballet story as one great whole. Not a symphony, but symphonic in sweep, color, scope, and drama nonetheless. No solo passage or set piece is neglected, but each smaller section unfolds inside a coherent larger music view. One comes to the end of each Act, glowing and satisfied to have been hearing all that has just passed. One would guess that Vedernikov has led enough live Bolshoi Nutcracker's to bring all the athletic grace and power of real dance to this reading, too. The tempos are amazingly rock steady, without becoming dogged. Their integration and flow keeps us moving right along as the ballet's story unfolds. Inside his chosen tempos, Vedernikov encourages the band departments to characterize brilliantly, as if the Late Romantic era had indeed invented the palette that later splashed across our High Definition video screens in a zillion digitized colors.
Between hearing the two acts, I realized that two other conductors were coming to mind as points of reference for the lovely magic that Vedernikov and his Bolshoi players are capturing. One is the legendary figure of Evgeny Mravinsky. I don't think he ever got to record the Nutcracker commercially, but his Tchaikovsky is deservedly recognized. Mravinsky's recordings of the Tchaikovsky symphonies captured all the Slavic soul and sweetness, carried along on the floating, athletic, balletic grace that Vedernikov and company bring to bear in this set. My other conductor is still living. Anthony Pappano often leads performances which manage to capture his music whole, while not stinting on the many particulars. Pappano is also an experienced opera conductor, and so his readings always sing and breathe. Bravo, Vedernikov, for soul, singing, strength, and athletic grace.
None of this inspired leadership would be so lovely if the band were not equal to the challenge. No department of the Bolshoi orchestra fails or lacks. The woodwinds are scintillating. Woody lower reeds to root or medium reeds giving character. Platinum upper lights to give shine or ice. The strings carry the bulk of the musical work, never showing a second of boredom or over-familiarity or deadness of phrasing. We hear nary a hint of any of the old Soviet orchestra shortcomings. No thinness in the strings. No wobbles in the brass, not even the horns. No over-balancing by the woodwinds. One imagines this orchestra has played this ballet music so many times that any member could do it, asleep. But the Bolshoi is certainly not asleep here. Awake, involved, and seeming still to be in deep and fast love with music and with ballet and with Tchaikovsky.
To round out the second disc, you get an excerpt from Swan Lake, plus the polonaise from the opera Eugene Onegin. My idea? Get these wonderful performers to do the other two Tchaikovsky ballets as soon as possible. Then add in the complete symphonies, including Manfred.
These days we can so little afford to take any incarnation of love for music, for granted. If you already have a Nutcracker you dearly love, this set will keep it very good company. If you do not have a Nutcracker, this set will start you right off, at the top of the super audio recordings heap. Let your listening room be transmuted into the Bolshoi Theater, Moscow."
Bruce Zeisel | Albany, NY United States | 07/23/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The music is widely recognized as something magical, a perennial favorite. What justifys a new recording though? Simply this: The magic of this music is more easily comprehended in live performance than a recording. This is a fine performance, but you when this recording is played on the right equipment ie, a multichannel SACD system, you get MUCH more of the magic you would hear in a live performance - its like you are there in the audience about 10 rows from the stage in a center seat, and folks, that is truly something wonderful. This recording captures all the ambiance of the hall and recreates this from five speakers in your listening room. The reflections from the back of the hall and sides of the hall are reproduced from the rear and front speakers so that reflections correctly appear to come at you from the sides and rear of the hall. No, its not absolutely perfect, but its the closest thing to it I ever heard in reproduced sound!"