Nutcracker from Maestro Classics (Crew Review)

Nutcracker Review
One of the first things I included when I began schooling with my oldest child was composer study and time getting familiar with famous pieces of classical music.  When we discovered Maestro Classics, I knew this was a company I would be turning to again and again in the years to come, and indeed, we have several of their CDs that get played over and over both at home and in the car.  When I heard about their newest release, The Nutcracker, I couldn’t wait to hear it and was ecstatic to be given a copy to review.

About The Nutcracker

Nutcracker coverThe music director of Maestro Classics, Stephen Simon, has created a sort of “abridged” Nutcracker, drawing from the entire ballet (not just the popular Suite) to give children a one-hour version that allows them to experience the beauty and creativity of Tchaikovsky’s music without taxing young attention spans.

Jim Weiss brings his acclaimed storytelling skills to the wonderful story.  After a brief introduction to The Nutcracker, he launches into the story itself, giving enough narration to help move the plot along without overshadowing the music.

As with their other recordings, Maestro Classics has provided free curriculum guide to go along with The Nutcracker.  It is full of ideas for using the CD as a launching pad for studies in science, math, language arts, and much more.  It also include several helpful links.

Our Experience

Maestro Classics aims to create recordings in the tradition of Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, and they have certainly succeeded with this offering.  There were several moments as we listened when I was reminded of that old favorite.  I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t familiar with the music of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker.  I grew up loving ballet, playing the music from the Nutcracker Suite on the piano, and enjoying both live and video performances every Christmas.  I want my children to feel the same kinship with the music that I have always felt, and this recording will ensure that it finds a place in their hearts.

I was a little worried that the one-hour adaptation would leave me feeling like I’d missed out, but Simon has done an admirable job of creating a seamless piece that leaves little wanting.  I do wish the Dance of the Reed Pipes had been more complete, but aside from that nothing jumped out at me as being left out of the original score (though obviously quite a bit more had been cut to fit it all within an hour).

One thing I have appreciated about previous Maestro Classics albums is the background information about both the music and the composer, and I was a little disappointed to find that aspect missing from The Nutcracker.  This CD is pure, delightful entertainment, and my children enjoyed it all the more for simply telling the story.  It is beautiful all on its own, but I think it would be even better followed by a live performance of the ballet, and I hope we can find one to attend this Christmas.  I know my children will enjoy it more than ever thanks to this recording.  It is true storytelling magic and a wonderful addition to our holiday season!

Maestro Classics Review

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