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Blu-ray Review

Piotr Ilyitch Tchaikovsky

The Nutcracker

  • Masha the Princess - Alina Somova
  • The Nutcracker Prince - Vladimir Shklyarov
  • Masha - Alexandra Korshunova
  • Stahlbaum - Vladimir Ponomaryov
  • His wife - Alexandra Gronskaya
  • Luisa - Alena Mashintseva
  • Franz - Pavel Miheyev
  • Drosselmeyer - Fyodor Lopukhov
  • The Grandmother - Lira Khuslamova
  • The Grandfather - Stanislav Burov
  • The Nanny - Valeria Karpina
Mariinsky Ballet & Orchestra/Valery Gergiev
Choreography – Vasily Vainonen
Production Design – Simon Virsaladze
Recorded Live at the Marrinsky Theater
Kultur (Warner Classics/EuroArts) Blu-ray BD4786 104m Anamorphic Widescreen LPCM Dolby Digital DTS
Find it at AmazonFind it at Amazon UKFind it at Amazon GermanyFind it at Amazon CanadaFind it at Amazon FranceFind it at Amazon JapanOrder Now from ArkivMusic.comFind it at CD Universe
Also available on DVD D4786: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe - JPC

I reviewed a BelAir Classiques Blu-ray disc of The Nutcracker (BelAir Classiques BAC473) in 2012 and found it generally a fine production. This new one is even better. It features a rather traditional treatment of the story in its sets, costuming, use of children in dancing roles, and the brilliant 1934 choreography of Vasily Vainonen. The BelAir Classiques release was a Bolshoi production that mainly cast adults in the children's roles. This new Kultur video Blu-ray is also visually splendid with its lavish sets, period costumes, atmospheric lighting and various lighting effects. On the musical side too, Gergiev is spot on with his tempo choices and shaping of the score, and the sound reproduction is vivid and powerful.

This production was recorded live in 2012 and was shown on the Ovation television network and subsequently broadcast on other cable outlets. Alexandra Korshunova was twelve years old at the time of this performance and her dancing is impressive and quite charming. She will certainly be a future star on the ballet stage. But then maybe one can say she already is. Korshunova portrays a most charming Masha (who in other productions of this ballet is also known as Marie, or even more commonly, as Clara). Alina Somova portrays Masha as The Princess and turns in a spectacular performance. Somova is a ballet superstar and has created a little controversy in her brief career, because some critics find her style too acrobatic. I'm not among them. I must say, she is elegant, graceful, and seemingly flawless in her movements on stage. She appears to have the technique to do anything she wants. Vladimir Shklyarov as the Prince is also hugely talented and thus makes a splendid partner for her.

The rest of the cast is also excellent. The orchestra plays accurately and with a real sense for both the lyrical and exotic sides of Tchaikovsky. If I had to choose just one video performance of The Nutcracker for the proverbial desert island stranding, this would be it. In fact, of all The Nutcrackers, whether audio or video, to me this one would be hard to surpass. Highly recommended.

Copyright © 2013, Robert Cummings