MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around 2024
60,000 reviews
... and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos 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

All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing



CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS

Pyotr Il’yich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
The Nutcracker - Ballet in two Acts (1892) [127:00]
Herr Drosselmeyer – Gary Avis; Clara – Iohna Loots; Hans-Peter/The Nutcracker – Ricardo Cervera; Mouse King – David Pickering; Sugar Plum Fairy – Miyako Yoshida; The Prince – Steven McRae
The Royal Ballet; The London Oratory Chamber Choir
Orchestra of the Royal Opera House/Koen Kessels
rec. live, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London, 26 November, 2 December 2009
NTSC 16:9 aspect Audio format LPCM 2.0 dts Digital Surround
OPUS ARTE OA 1036 D [127:00 + extras]

Experience Classicsonline

The Nutcracker was first performed as part of a double bill with the opera Iolanta. Opera North revived that coupling a few years ago, and a very enjoyable if somewhat long evening it was. More normally, however, the ballet is performed on its own. In that form it has the advantage of being more concise that the composer’s other ballets, and of being especially suitable as a Christmas entertainment given its setting at that season, a story revolving around a Christmas party, magical effects and fairy tale characters. Choreographers have devised many versions, some straying far from the original scenario, sometimes under the excuse of getting closer to Hoffman’s original story. As a result the choice for anyone wanting a DVD of the ballet ranges from versions by Mark Morris and Matthew Bourne to a whole series of more conventional accounts. There have been earlier versions by the Royal Ballet which I have seen in the past but am unable to compare directly with the present version of Peter Wright’s long-lived and very satisfactory choreography which is largely based on the original version by Lev Ivanov.

In fact I felt no great need for such comparisons. The Nutcracker is very much a company work, with a multitude of small parts and character roles, especially in the first Act. What is particularly striking about this DVD is the strength in depth of the company that the performance reveals. The very detailed and busy action during the first part of the initial party scene are very entertaining – a rarity with staged party scenes – although I found myself from time to time wishing for a very large screen to be able to see all that was happening.

Peter Wright’s version tells the story clearly and with relish, and is properly responsive to the changing character of the music. He makes the parts of Clara and the Nutcracker more prominent than some other “traditional” versions. I have not put it to the test but I can imagine that those children still receptive to the call of an interesting and well told story will find this enthralling even if they are not more generally interested in ballet. One of the “extras” is a verbal telling of the story by Peter Wright to pupils of the Royal Ballet School. Although they can be expected to know it already he tells it well so that they all manage to seem interested; I suspect that it would be worth playing this to less well informed children before playing them the ballet itself. Many of these Royal Ballet School pupils take part in the performance, as party guests, mice, angels and so on and another interesting “extra” shows them rehearsing for this. This certainly serves to demonstrate the sheer hard work involved in creating a performance like this from even the youngest members of the cast. This might be worth playing to children after they have seen the results of all the hard work.

It is easy to feel sympathy for orchestras playing for ballet, even when the score is as good as this. There is often a very real sense that many of the audience are there for the dancing and that the music is incidental at best. Nonetheless they put in a more than acceptable performance here, especially in the great Act 2 pas de deux. Elsewhere at times the demands of the dancers and choreographer seem to allow little room for the subtlety or flexibility in phrasing of which the woodwind in particular are clearly very capable.

The booklet contains an interesting article on the history of this ballet by Professor Roland John Wiley and a synopsis by Peter Wright. A minor thank you is due to Opus Arte for keeping the Main Titles free of music. All in all a fine performance of a justified favourite is given the presentation it deserves.

John Sheppard









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

Past 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

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.