Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker
The Daily Telegraph
The Russian National Orchestra under Mikhail Pletnev highlights the delicacy of Tchaikovsky’s orchestration. Even the more solemn moments have a wit and irreverence about them, as if the players are smiling to themselves as they play.
Mikhail Pletnev, leading the Russian National Orchestra and the Vesna Children's Choir, delivers an elegant account of the score. The orchestra plays with dazzling precision and a warm, round tone, and beautifully conveys the predominant mood of magical, gossamer delicacy.... It's in Pletnev's attention to details that the performance really stands out. The scintillating, jewel-like Overture sets the tone of the performers' alert, attentive approach to the ballet. The swirl of strings rising from the cellos to the violins' heights that punctuates the March really does seem to swirl around the listener's head. The use of a children's (rather than an adult) choir in the "Waltz of the Snowflakes" is especially effective. Ondine's sound is immaculate, full, and nicely detailed.
Pletnev lets the first act unfold with as much drama as it contains, emphasizing the many elegant instrumental touches that Tchaikovsky brought to the score, and then he simply makes the second act [into] a celebration.... [Pletnev] lets the excellent playing of the orchestra shine through and allows the music to flow naturally and without any pomposity whatsoever. The ballet becomes a sort of sumptuous divertissement filled with gorgeous melodies that flow over each other unceasingly from start to finish...
Mikhail Pletnev is recognized as a reference performer of Tchaikovsky’s music, and in particular of The Nutcracker.
So full of subtle colors in a fairytale world, snowflake patterns, games, magic and fairy dust, immersion, that the child's fantasy is like child's play... Pletnev and his magic wand has charmed the Russian National Orchestra, which conjures up a honeyed sound.
Utter magic overtakes the winter forest in the second scene… Acoustically, the production inhabits a beautiful, rounded space... Very well done!
The RNO virtuosos are on the job. As witnessed in the Pas de deux, when it comes down to it, you really need Russian musicians...
The Nutcracker enshrines another formidably assured display that repeatedly has one gasping at the wondrous skill with which Tchaikovsky handles his forces... The playing of the RNO is past praise in its unruffled, articulate composure.. and Pletnev's direction is strong, clear-sighted and unsentimental… Admirers of Pletnev and his remarkable band will find much to relish.