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Best version of 'Nutcracker' ?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
It's for the mom's christmas present - performance and sound are both important.
post #2 of 10
I just ordered this one today, based on high recommendations in Stereophile records to die for, and great reviews elsewhere:

TCHAIKOVSKY: The Nutcracker, Valery Gergiev, Kirov Orchestra
Philips 462 114-2 (CD). 1998. Anna Bary, prod.; Jaap de Jong, Thijs Hoekstra, engs. DDD. TT: 81:03

It's actually the complete nutcracker, not just the normal suite, yet they managed to squeeze it on one CD. Supposedly it's very well recorded and performed, so I'm quite excited about it since it has always been a favorite of mine.
post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 
Yes, I saw that one was popular at Amazon. I think I'll give it a try, thanks.
post #4 of 10
I have been listening to a few of my Nutcrackers recently and I do have the new Gergiev/Phillips. A good buy since full ballet is on one disc, and sound is quite good and ranks "near" the top of all versions available. My few reservations are the tymphani drum strikes seem exaggerated/highlighted in a few spots as well as tamborine/cymbals which makes exciting sound but not natural/realistic. 3D depth is little short of the best available (probably becausing of highlighting noted), detail is very good however, with plenty of panache/excitement when called for. I would rank this @4-5 best Nutcracker overall.

The best Nutcracker honor still goes to Dutoit/Decca or Ashkenazy/Decca both made in the 1990s. The Decca sound is unmatched in lush, natural yet vivid detail as well as huge 3D soundstage. These are the two to get, however both are 2 CD sets and currently hard to find. If you go purely by sound quality, I think Dutoit has best recording available for this work.

The MacKerras/Telarc from late 1980s is very good also, has a lush 3D sound, but cannot match the newer Deccas or Gregiev/Phillips in fine detail retreival.
post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 
I actually decided to pass on the Kirov/Philips. I listened to some of the samples and the tempo seemed rather rushed, sound was pretty nice though. I'll give a listen to the Deccas and see If I can find a winner. Hopefully, one of the many local outlets should have them.
post #6 of 10
Unfortunately the only Decca Nutcracker from Dutoit or Ashkenazy
that is readily available is the Dutoit highlights CD from all three ballets:

This will give you and idea of the Decca sound but will only make you want the entire ballet! It is inexplainable that they are no longer stocking these great recordings of such a popular work.
post #7 of 10
Actually if you want a Phillips label Nutcracker, the Dorati stereo
version from the mid 1970's with the Concertgebouw Orchestra may be better choice vs Gergiev. Although not quite as detailed as new Gregiev version, they are more naturally balanced and perhaps even better 3D presentation, Dorati has the rythm captured just right. Two versions are currently available with different pairings:

post #8 of 10
I found some $4 classical albums at my local record shop. I forgot the label though. When I get back home I will look at them. They are unopened, and I was afraid that b/c of their low price they might suck.

post #9 of 10

Hello there,

I have been auditioning various versions of the Nutcracker, and still not found the one. I found your suggestions very informative. Just curious, would you change them at all these days, or do they still ring true.?


FYI, I like the Kirov, but find it rushed sounding, with some off tempo percussion with way too much presence. 


I am trying to find the Dutoit to download to know if I like it before I buy, but have had no luck.





post #10 of 10

Gergiev is good if you want a fast, atheletic reading.

Dorati is dramatic and exciting.

Rostrapovich is a lush, beautiful version.


For a mom, Rostropovich is the best choice, and it comes with Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty too.

Edited by bigshot - 12/15/11 at 10:38am
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