Maestro Classics: The Nutcracker

May I share with you all that I don't recall ever seeing The Nutcracker or listening to the music in its entirety? Maestro Classics recently released The Nutcracker as a part of their Stories in Music Series, and I saw this review as a perfect opportunity to add a classic piece of music to our learning environment.  We were given two options to review, and the girls chose The Nutcracker.

The Nutcracker is narrated by Jim Weiss who has been professionally recording stories for 25 years. The narration spoken by Jim Weiss melds together nicely with the sounds of the London Philharmonic Orchestra.  The recording time is nearly one hour long. and includes music for every section of ballet.

The Nutcracker was written by E. T. A. Hoffman.  Although this was not his only composition, The Nutcracker is the most beloved of them all.  The music was composed by Pyotr Tchaikovsky.  The recording includes music from every section of his composition.  The tempo of the music is what gives the composition life and allows the listener to move from scene to scene without being able to physically see the performers.

The disc came with a booklet that shares the history of the ballet.  I also found the titles for each scene within the booklet. There was also a few activities included such as a word search. 

Our thoughts about Maestro's Classics:The Nutcracker

We listened to the audio disc in our car as we traveled to our weekly activities.  This is typically the way we listen to most narrations.  The girls were intrigued by The Nutcracker because they had never heard the story nor had they heard the music in its entirety. The audio begins with Jim Weiss setting the stage for the performance.  He shares history of the ballet and its music.  The narration by Jim Weiss pulled all of us into the story of Clara and Fritz right away as they took part of the Christmas party at their home.  Even though all we had was audio, I felt as if I could see the words in motion.

The section of the ballet that stood out the most for our youngest daughter was when the Mouse King was killed by the Nutcracker who shortly after transforms into a prince.  She was devastated by the killing and felt as if the Prince and the Mouse King should have talked it out.  Like I said before, if you have a pretty vivid imagination it is easy to visual the scenes as if you were watching it.

Our oldest daughter enjoyed the music the most.  Again, she was able to visualize the ballerinas dancing to the music.  I appreciated the fact that there was a beautiful balance between the narration and the music.  Jim Weiss eloquently shares the story while the beautiful music of the London Philharmonic Orchestra is the primary focus.

This adaption of The Nutcracker  was a nice way of exposing the girls to the ballet. Although they hadn't had much exposure to the ballet, they were able to recognize the Children's March, Waltz of the Flowers, and Sugar Plum Fair Pas de Deux. The girls and I both have a better understanding of the story and now realize that the music accompanies a story; they work together to set the stage for this beautiful ballet.  Since they made the selection, I decided that I would take them to see a performance this year due to their interest.  I am sure we will listen to this adaption again and again.

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