Recorded in Moscow just last year, this fine performance in magnificent 5.0 surround sound provides quite a contrast to the formerly decrepit sonics of Soviet era Russian recordings by the Bolshoi Orchestra. The Nutcracker became part of the standard repertory in Russia only eight years after its premiere, and presumably just as many local ballet companies stage the classic around the holidays every year there as do in North America.
Everything sparkles, and the tempos are fairly brisk – but then the Bolshoi dancers probably have no problems keeping up with them. The very familiar sections of the ballet included in the usual suites are played with a freshness that seldom lags. But what hearing the complete score shows is that there is lots of equally great music here that didn’t make it to the suites. At least one of the standard CD versions squeezes the entire ballet score onto one disc, but at least PentaTone has included five tracks of Tchaikovsky fillers on the second SACD. This set follows on the label’s recent release of two other fine Bolshoi albums – the 3-SACD Ruslan & Lyudmila opera and the Highlights from Russian Operas.
– John Sunier