Tuesday, December 16, 2003

[12/16/2011] Preview: If it's the holidays, it must be "Nutcracker" time! (continued)


You'd want to think twice before bidding on this record. The ABC Command label tells you it's one of the inferior later pressings; you want an original gold-label issue.


You'll note straightaway in the Miniature Overture that William Steinberg is taking a rather spritelier approach and Charles Dutoit a more buoyant, caressing one. Both the Pittsburgh Symphony and the Montreal Symphony play utterly delectably.

And in audio terms both recordings have sterling pedigrees, in two noticeably different styles of recording.

* The Command recordings that Enoch Light produced with the Pittsburgh Symphony and its longtime music director Wiliam Steinberg, done on 35mm film by engineer Robert Fine, the talented engineer of most of the legendary Mercury Living Presence recordings, are one of the great triumphs of orchestral recording technology. (This is the dub I made from my Command LP two years ago for our "3rd annual Very Tchaikovsky Christmas." Since it doesn't have CD track points, it plays continuously; I've provided time cues below for the individual movements.)

* And the vivid recordings that Decca made with Charles Dutoit and the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal (this one produced by Andrew Cornall and engineered by Jimmy Lock) have long been understandably prized by audiophiles.

TCHAIKOVSKY: Nutcracker Suite, Op. 71a:
i. Miniature Overture
ii. Characteristic Dances
-- (a) March [at 3:01 in the trackless Steinberg version]
-- (b) Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy [at 5:30]
-- (c) Trepak (Russian Dance) [at 7:01]
-- (d) Coffee (Arabian Dance) [at 8:06]
-- (e) Tea (Chinese Dance) [at 11:22]
-- (f) Dance of the Reed Pipes [at 12:43]
iii. Waltz of the Flowers [at 14:59]

Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, William Steinberg, cond. Command, recorded c1963 [audio link] Montreal Symphony Orchestra, Charles Dutoit, cond. Decca, recorded c1985 [audio link] NOW FOR THAT NON-NUTCRACKER BONUS I PROMISED You'll recall that our commenter Karin offered as her prime example of Tchaikovskian happiness the Capriccio italien, a piece that I confessed has at times held a rather obsessive hold on my imagination. As it happens, the very same Decca CD that contains Charles Dutoit's splendid Montreal recording of the Nutcracker Suite contains a quite splendid performance of the Capriccio. So I thought I'd throw it in here. TCHAIKOVSKY: Capriccio italien, Op. 45 Montreal Symphony Orchestra, Charles Dutoit, cond. Decca, recorded c1985 [audio link] IN THIS WEEK'S SUNDAY CLASSICS POST As noted, this year for this first time in Sunday Classics history we're going to hear the whole of The Nutcracker! RETURN TO THE BEGINNING OF THE POST

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home