Aureole etc.




Nimbus on-line




If it’s the Czech works you’re after, do not hesitate

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


Some items
to consider

 


Enjoy the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra wherever you are. App available for iOS and Android

Lyrita 4CDs £16 incl.postage

Lyrita 4CDs £16 incl.postage


Decca Phase 4 - 40CDs


Judith Bailey, George Lloyd


BAX Orchestral pieces


CASKEN Violin Concerto

Schumann Symphonies Rattle


Complete Brahms
Bargain price

 

REVIEW



Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Hyperion

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Alto
Arcodiva
Atoll
CDAccord
Cameo Classics
Centaur
Hallé
Hortus
Lyrita
Nimbus
Northern Flowers
Redcliffe
Sheva
Talent
Toccata Classics


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample
 

alternatively
CD: AmazonUK AmazonUS

Peter Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
The Nutcracker, Op. 71 (1892) [91:32]
USSR State Symphony Orchestra/Evgeny Svetlanov
rec. 1988
MELODIYA MEL CD 10 00409 [48:17 + 43:15]

Experience Classicsonline

Evgeny Svetlanov remains consistent only in his inconsistency. His early Soviet recordings, while hardly the last word in refinement, offered healthy, red-blooded renderings of staple repertoire. But the playing could, from time to time, turn crude and poorly considered, for no obvious artistic reason. The various London-based orchestras with which the conductor has recorded managed to avoid the crudeness, but this more likely testifies to the players' technical expertise and polish than to any orchestra-building skills on Svetlanov's part.

At first, this Nutcracker sounds like it'll catch the conductor's good side. The "Miniature Overture" is neatly played: the upper-string lines are lean, clear, and incisively accented, the winds crisp and perky. The bass note that launches Act I proper lands firmly and gently, with the string ostinatos irresistibly suggesting a narrator settling down to a long story. But, as the sonority expands, the texture thickens and oozes, with some approximate rhythmic coordination.

The "home stretch" of Act I is similarly patchy. The climax of the Pine Forest scene (disc 1, track 9, 2:16), heralded by a slightly early cymbal crash, is crassly whacked by sour brasses, in the best Salvation Army manner. But the darting string and woodwind fragments of the ensuing transitional passage evoke a captivating atmosphere. The Waltz of the Snowflakes, though a bit sluggish for dancing, is transparent, with the wordless children's chorus slightly distanced; but the following build-up is heavy-handed and rhythmically square.

So it goes throughout the performance: passages of refinement and real insight alternate with coarse ones, which makes for frustrating listening. Aside from this, Svetlanov's tempo sense, as suggested, isn't particularly balletic. He favours broad tempi - save in the 6/8 passage of the Children's Galop in Act I (disc 1, track 4, 1:27), a hasty scamper - which isn't necessarily a problem for home listening. But generally the slower movements land heavily; the phrasing offers little sense of direction.

The lighter-textured characteristic dances of Act II, where one might have expected Svetlanov to excel, fall short: with the exception of the firmly accented Spanish Dance, they lack character. Even the big set-pieces have problems. In the coda of the full-throated Waltz of the Flowers, the little fanfares at 6:42 are front, centre, and in the way. And in the grand pas de deux, a too-prominently balanced harp - the engineers favour some old-fashioned spotlighting - reduces the figurations to busywork, spoiling the mood.

This may well be the way the Russians heard Nutcracker in the 1980s - although I wonder whether Svetlanov would have gotten better results with the Bolshoi's own orchestra, which plays the music regularly - but that doesn't make it competitive in a well-stocked catalogue. The fifty-year-old Ansermet version (Decca) remains the prize for its gracious phrasing, impeccable balances, and glowing, lucid recording. A later Decca production under Richard Bonynge misses some of the grace, but gains in vibrant richness. Not to be ignored is Bychkov's refined account (Philips), taking advantage of the Berlin Philharmonic's distinctive, translucent timbres. If you must have an authentically Russian version, stick with Rozhdestvensky's capable if prosaic traversal on Melodiya and various licensings.

Stephen Francis Vasta

 


EXPLORE MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

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

 

Discographies
   Composer
      Composer surveys
   National
      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

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

Nostalgia

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

Comment
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

Announcements

 

Community
Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Reviewers
Pat and present

Helpers invited!

Resources
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
Publishers
Other links
Newsgroups
Web News sites etc

PotPourri
A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Questionnaire    
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
Dictionary
Magazines
Newsfeed  
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.