Tchaikovsky The Nutcracker Symphony no. 4 Valery GergievPyotr Tchaikovsky
The Nutcracker
Symphony no. 4

Mariinsky Orchestra
Valery Gergiev, conductor

Mariinsky, 2016

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This wonderful album collects Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s beloved ballet The Nutcracker, composed between 1891 and 1892, and famous Symphony no. 4, written in 1877 and dedicated to the composer’s patroness, Nadezhda von Meck. These are two extremely different works and while I listened to them I was wondering why they were recorded together.

Gergiev and the Mariinsky recorded two Nutcrackers before this: one was released in 1998 and the DVD recording was released in 2012. This new recording is a real children tale and the conductor emphasizes with skill and delicacy its dreamy, carefree atmosphere. This does not mean that the music is softened or weak and actually it is rich in colours and its sounds are vivid and often sparkling. I never thought for a moment that there is something wrong or that I have preferred to listen to it in a different way. The expression of the conductor’s ideas is so simple and clear that makes this Nutcracker a pleasant and joyful experience. There is not a piece that I will suggest you in particular, since they are all beautiful, but I would like to remember the frenzied Trepak, the floating Waltz of the Flowers and the delicious Dance of the Plum-Sugar Fairy.

Symphony no. 4, instead, tells the story of a desperate resistance and is gloomy and stormy. It seems that Gergiev have found some pleasure in stressing the differences between The Nutcracker and the Symphony and actually the Symphony fully justifies its nickname of “Fate” (with reference to the recurring “fate theme”) when you consider the intensity of feelings in the first movement, the resignation in the second and the turmoil in the finale.

This is indeed a precious recording of Tchaikovsky’s masterpieces.

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