Magazine article Gramophone

Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker-Suite, Op 71a

Magazine article Gramophone

Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker-Suite, Op 71a

Article excerpt

Tchaikovsky

The Nutcracker--Suite, Op 71a.

Nutcracker Suite (arr Ellington/Strayhorn)

Harmonie Ensemble/New York / Steven Richman

Harmonia Mundi [F] HMU90 7493 (54' * DDD)

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Second taping in 52 years for Ellington/Strayhorn Nutcracker

Comparative listening doesn't get much more fun than this. How right of the Duke to give equal billing to his collaborator Billy Strayhorn (1915-67) on the front sleeve of the original Columbia LP of that wonderfully affectionate and superbly stimulating reimagining of Tchaikovsky's suite from The Nutcracker. This is the first commercial recording of it in its entirety since that legendary 1960 release and proves to have been well worth the wait. To be honest, every number brings with it an utterly inspired transformation, be it the vigorous swagger and swirl of 'Peanut Brittle Brigade' (March) or the intoxicatingly sinuous and sultry 'Arabesque Cookie' (Arabian Dance). Elsewhere, both 'The Volga Vouty' (Trepak) and (especially) 'Danse of the Floreadores' (Waltz of the Flowers) swing with a vengeance (the latter cleverly rejigged to a pulsating 4/4 beat), and if the sly wit and gawky charm of 'Toot Toot Tootie Toot' (Dance of the Mirlitons) and 'Chinoiserie' (Chinese Dance) fail to raise a chuckle, then there really is no hope for you! …

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