Tchaikovsky: Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty & Nutcracker Suites
Before Tchaikovsky, most ballet music served primarily as an accompaniment; it needed to be modestly characterful, rhythmically straightforward stuff that wouldn't distract the audience from the dancers, or make the dancers forget their steps. Tchaikovsky changed all that, creating music that was the equal of the physical movements onstage, and that could be listened to and enjoyed for its own sake. This album collects suites of highlights from all three of the composer's ballets: "The Sleeping Beauty," "Swan Lake," and "The Nutcracker." Cellist/conductor Mstislav Rostropovich has always had a strong affinity for Tchaikovsky's music, and this is perhaps his finest achievement on record. You'll probably never get the chance to hear the Berlin Philharmonic play in the orchestra pit of your favorite ballet company, but this recording gives an idea of just how fabulous it would be if you did. These performances soar and swing so magically, you might have the urge to dig those toe shoes out of the back of the closet.