One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,928 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             


Some items
to consider


paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas
All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews



Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Discs for review may be sent to:
Jonathan Woolf
76 Lushes Road
Essex IG10 3QB
United Kingdom


DVD: AmazonUK AmazonUS

Piotr Il’yich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
The Nutcracker (1892) [99:00]
Choreography by Maurice Béjart and Marius Petipa
Damaas Thijs - Bim, the son
Elisabet Ros - Elle, the mother
Gil Roman - Marius Petipa / Méphisto
Juichi Kobayashi - Félix, the cat
Yvette Horner - Fairy Godmother / Waltz of the Flowers
Béjart Ballet Lausanne
Orchestre Colonne/Edmón Colomer
Director: Ross MacGibbon
rec. live performance, Théâtre Musical de Paris – Châtelet, 2000
EMI CLASSICS 2165869 [99:00]
Experience Classicsonline

Don’t expect a conventional Nutcracker with this one. This is after all “Maurice Béjart’s Nutcracker”. True, Tchaikovsky’s score is still there … as well as a few rather unexpected musical additions, of which more later. But, turning to the story, you certainly won’t find feisty little Clara, her family, the mysterious Herr Drosselmeyer, the enormously expanding Christmas tree, the wicked Mouse King and his cohorts or even a nutcracker on stage at the Châtelet.
What you will find, on the other hand is a completely new surrealist fantasy; “story” would most certainly be the wrong word. It is based around Maurice Béjart’s memories of his real-life mother who died when he was aged just seven years old. We are pointed in that direction right at the opening when a screen descends over the stage - a device that is used several times in the production - and Bejart himself appears on film to reminisce briefly about his childhood in Marseilles.
In a series of frankly bizarre episodes in Act 1, we see, among other things, the young boy Bim (Béjart’s alter ego) enticed into the world of dance by the influence of Marius Petipa/Méphisto It’s an episode inspired by Béjart’s own Faustian childhood games when he and his sister played Méphisto and Marguerite. Another scene derives from the choreographer’s early dreams of his mother - accompanied by a troop of scantily-dressed boy scouts! - wandering through an enchanted forest. There they encounter two bearded drag queens - or angels, as the end credits have it - and two high-kicking chorus girls: fairies, apparently.
And, as if all that wasn’t enough, at the first Act’s climax celebrated 78 years old French accordéoniste Yvette Horner gamely makes an appearance from the wings to offer a spirited ad lib accompaniment to the Waltz of the snowflakes. Horner is campily dressed up by Jean-Paul Gaultier as a sort of red-headed version of Dame Barbara Cartland.
The second Act – introduced on that screen descending over the stage by Béjart’s real-life grandmother - abandons the idea of the chronological approach based on Béjart’s childhood. It becomes instead a sort of homage to motherhood in general. Even so, it has to be pointed out that the sort of mother/son relationship hinted at here is of the rather suspect variety more usually encountered in Greek tragedy. Thus, the celebratory dances are staged here for a Mother’s Day celebration. We learn this when a large banner proclaiming Bonne Fête Maman is paraded across the stage. The Spanish dance features bullfighters, for it seems that the young Béjart actually aspired to become one. The Chinese dance features that country’s familiar bicyclists circling the stage in their Chairman Mao suits. A magician thrusts swords into a cabinet holding an exotic odalisque in the Arabian dance. The Russian dance features a pair of dancers who appear to be dressed as Ancient Greeks, even though they perform against the backdrop of a Soviet hammer-and-sickle flag!
As if all that weren’t enough, Béjart then adds another and entirely new dance – which, it is announced from the stage, is a Parisian one. That’s the cue for Madame Horner, in a French tricolour dress this time, to serenade us with a Gallic popular song while a couple of Apache dancers give a show. After this, nothing if not versatile, she plays a piece in the baroque style while Marius Petipa/Méphisto dances solo. We then hear Bim singing (off-key!) for a few bars before we are back in the familiar territory of the Waltz of the Flowers. This is danced by Bim and his mother, the drag queens/angels, chorus girls/fairies, a hitherto unseen woman in a tuxedo, the men of the corps de ballet who have changed by now out of their boy scout uniforms and into dinner jackets and Marius Petipa/Méphisto. Yvette Horner merrily plays along ad lib too.
Just to show, though, that cultural iconoclasm hasn’t won the day entirely, Marius Petipa/Méphisto then picks up a microphone to announce to the audience that: The director didn’t want to alter the classical choreography of the grand pas de deux in the “Nutcracker”. So tonight it’ll be danced in the original version by Marius Petipa. Quite why Béjart retained that one element of tradition when the rest of the production had thrown every other familiar element of Nutcracker out of the window remains something of a mystery – unless, of course, the sheer wilfulness of doing so was yet another completely deliberately surreal touch!
You will know by now, I suspect, whether this is a production for you. I actually rather enjoyed it for its sheer weirdness. On the other hand, I suspect that I won’t, in spite of some impressive dancing from the company, be watching it again in a hurry. My own copy of the DVD came with no accompanying booklet, leaving the viewer to work out for himself what’s going on; at least the members of the Châtelet audience could have bought programmes. In its previous DVD incarnation, on the TDK label in 2003, the production came with both an accompanying booklet and, even more usefully, a 23 minutes documentary which helped explain at least a few of the oddities. It’s a great shame that something similar isn’t to be found on EMI’s version for I’d hope that, if it were, we might even get an idea of what exactly it is that those bearded drag queens are doing in our beloved Nutcracker.
Rob Maynard


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

Eloquence recordings
All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month


Chopin Bruce Liu

Ingeneri Volume 2

Mondonville - Titon et L'Aurore

Telemann - French Cantatas 1


March 2022

Brahms Symphony 4
MacMillan Larghetto for Orchestra

Bruch Violin Concertos

Debussy Preludes Book 2

Jan-Peter de GRAAFF
Cello Concertos

La Nuit étoilé
Berlioz. Holmes




Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Return to Review Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.