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Kunzel's Nutcracker Selections

10 DEC 07 VIVIEN SCHWEITZER

On the new Telarc release, Tchaikovsky: Nutcracker - Selections From The Ballet, Erich Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra highlight the exuberance and charm of favorites from the Nutcracker, from the merry opening of scene one to the drama of the final waltz at the ballet's conclusion.

When writing the music for the Nutcracker, Tchaikovsky worried that it would turn out poorly, telling his brother Modest "the ballet is infinitely worse than The Sleeping Beauty, that much is certain." He clearly needn't have fretted so much.

While the Nutcracker's staged premiere at the end of 1892 received mixed reviews, the ever-popular ballet has since become a beloved holiday staple. And the music is just as well suited to the concert hall, as proven by the immediate success of a concert given earlier that year in which Tchaikovsky conducted excerpts from the ballet.

On the Kunzel release, also available in SACD format, you'll find the magical "Pas de Deux" between the doll and toy soldiers, an evocative "Waltz of the Snowflakes," the sultry "Arabian Dance," the sparkling "Chinese Dance" and the famous "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy." Throughout, Kunzel and the Pops Orchestra play with sparkle, delicacy and panache, fully illuminating Tchaikovsky's colorful tableau of mystical scenes.