Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Nutcracker from Maestro Classics ~ A Crew Review

The Nutcracker, Maestro Classics, Music CD

Note: Tchaikovsky has always been one of Emily's favorite composers, so I asked her to write the beginning this review. From Emily (17):

The Nutcracker on CD, from Maestro Classics, is a beautiful retelling of the classic Christmas story. The story is narrated by Jim Weiss, the professional story teller whose voice  is familiar to many. Mr Weiss tells the story piece by piece with great skill to help you see the whole story happening in front of you. All of the dances, music, and familiar characters are there, from Clara to the Sugar Plum Fairy, with everyone in between. The CD is produced as a chapter a song, beginning with an introduction to the story and a brief biography of Pyotr Tchaikovsky. The story goes on in good style after this, with both Mr. Weiss’ narration and the music itself. You will find yourself recognizing many of the songs and enjoying the colorful tale they tell. It’s definitely a good car trip story.
The CD comes with a booklet that contains a description of each scene, a very basic piano piece ‘Overture to the Nutcracker’, and pages about the harp, ballet, and Tchaikovsky, along with word puzzles based off of the story.
The story is good for all ages, from younger children who will love the magic, candy, and magical creatures, to older students who can appreciate Tchaikovsky’s genius in his music. Definitely family friendly and lots of fun, this is a great addition to any CD collection.

From Carol (the Mom)
Maestro Classics CD’s are recordings of performances by the London Philharmonic Orchestra. They focus on the “Stories in Music(TM)” and have a dozen titles to choose from. The Nutcracker CD is an adaptation of the original score, and runs just under one hour. The original is about an hour and a half. The Cd is geared towards children 5 and up, and families. Our girls are 15 & 17, yet they still enjoyed this masterful production. It has been a couple of years since we’ve been to see The Nutcracker ballet performed, and not far into our first time listening to this CD did one of the girls ask if we could go see it again this year.

Having Jim Weiss narrate the story behind the music helped me tremendously. Either I didn’t know, or had forgotten, parts of the story. The narration opened my ears to the details of what I have seen performed onstage. Even if you’ve never experienced the ballet of The Nutcracker, your whole family can enjoy this CD. We have listened to it in the car several times, and recently, I’ve been hearing one or both of the girls playing some of the music on our piano. Tchaikovsky has always been one of our favorite composers. 

The booklet that comes inside of the CD case includes several things to help your family understand the story and more thoroughly enjoy listening to the beautiful music. It includes a listing of the 16 scenes of the ballet, and what occurs in each one. Next is a section giving a brief history of ballet. It also includes a simple 8 measure section of the Overture to The nutcracker, as well as information about the harp, and Pyotr Ilych Tchaikovsky. The booklet concludes with a couple fun games for younger children, and the listing of the length of each track on the CD.

Overall? We loved this retelling of The Nutcracker. Not only do I foresee us listening to it time and time again, I expect the girls will probably pack it in their bag when they go to kid-sit. The Cd retails for $16.98 and includes free shipping, or you can purchase the mp3 for $9.98, and receive the booklet as a PDF download. This was our first experience with Maestro Classics, now we know why they're a favorite of so many families! They provide free curriculum guides to go alongside each of the Maestro Classics CDs. These can help you incorporate music into almost every subject.

The Crew also reviewed Peter and the Wolf from Maestro Classics. Click the banner below to read all the reviews.

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