Album: Tchaikovsky, The Nutcracker – Berliner / Rattle (EMI)

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The Independent Culture

Simon Rattle is a late-adopter when it comes to Tchaikovsky's ballets, and he tackles The Nutcracker as though persuading himself of its worth.

This is a high-definition, low-camp midnight feast. The bravura sequence of dances in Confiturembourg has authentic fizz: the shrill Chinese Dance comes with a peppery underpinning of bassoons, while the celesta in Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy acquires an almost sinister glow, second-cousin to the glass harmonica. Less convincing is the Pas de Deux, which lacks sensuality.