Friday, December 16, 2011

Sunday Classics preview: If it's the holidays, it must be "Nutcracker" time!


The Nutcracker Suite segment of Walt Disney's Fantasia -- with, of course, Leopold Stokowski conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra

by Ken

It didn't really occur to me when I devoted a recent post, "The Violin Concerto may be Tchaikovsky's happiest creation," to the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto that we might be returning to the composer so soon. But I was reminded of the timing by this comment from reader Karin:
I have to disagree. His happiest creation is Capriccio Italien. And the Nutcracker is pretty happy too.

I replied that I had no problem with Karin's nominations.
There was a period in my life where I listened to the Capriccio italien pretty much exclusively and unceasingly for a period of months. And around here we do a more or less annual Nutcracker-themed post.

But I'll stick with the Violin Concerto as a rare expression among Tchaikovsky's works of geniality and even hopefulness that seems to me to come from inside rather than being put on for the occasion.

As best I can tell (I keep telling myself I've really got to roll up my sleeves and update the long-neglected Sunday Classics index, even if only for my own use), I broke the Tchaikovsky-for-the-holidays thread last year, but this holiday-season week we have an almost entirely Nutcracker-themed post. (The exception is a special bonus we'll have at the end of this preview.)

Actually it's more than Nutcracker-themed. This year for the first time we're going to hear the whole darned thing!. And what better way to "warm up" for it than with Tchakovsky's own Nutcracker Suite? In the click-through we've got two quite splendid, and interestingly different, performances.


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