Bychkov: Tchaikovsky - The Nutcracker (2 CD, APE)
Bychkov: Tchaikovsky - The Nutcracker (2 CD, APE)

Orchestra: Berlin Philharmonic Ochestra
Conductor: Semyon Bychkov
Composer: Pyotr I. Tchaikovsky
Audio CD
Number of Discs: 1
Format: APE (image+cue)
Label: Philips
Size: 390 MB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: yes

Disc 1:
01. The Nutcracker, Op.71 – Overture
02. The Nutcracker, Op.71 – Act 1 – No. 1 The Christmas Tree
03. The Nutcracker, Op.71 – Act 1 – No. 2 March
04. The Nutcracker, Op.71 – Act 1 – No. 3 Galop And Dance Of The Parents
05. The Nutcracker, Op.71 – Act 1 – No. 4 Dance Scene – The Presents Of Drosselmeyer
06. The Nutcracker, Op.71 – Act 1 – No. 5a Scene
07. The Nutcracker, Op.71 – Act 1 – No. 5b Grandfather Dance
08. The Nutcracker, Op.71 – Act 1 – No. 6 Clara And The Nutcracker
09. The Nutcracker, Op.71 – Act 1 – No. 7 The Nutcracker Battles The Army Of The Mouse King – He Wins And Is Transformed Into Prince Charming
10. The Nutcracker, Op.71 – Act 1 – No. 8 In The Christmas Tree
11. The Nutcracker, Op.71 – Act 1 – No. 9 Scene And Waltz Of The Snowflakes

Disc 2:
01. The Nutcracker, Op.71 – Act 2 – No. 10 The Magic Castle On The Mountain Of Sweets
02. The Nutcracker, Op.71 – Act 2 – No. 11 Clara And Prince Charming
03. The Nutcracker, Op.71 – Act 2 – No. 12a Character Dances: Chocolate (Spanish Dance)
04. The Nutcracker, Op.71 – Act 2 – No. 12b Character Dances: Coffee (Arabian Dance)
05. The Nutcracker, Op.71 – Act 2 – No. 12c Character Dances: Tea (Chinese Dance)
06. The Nutcracker, Op.71 – Act 2 – No. 12d Character Dances: Trépak (Russian Dance)
07. The Nutcracker, Op.71 – Act 2 – No. 12e Character Dances: Dance Of The Reed Pipes
08. The Nutcracker, Op.71 – Act 2 – No. 12f Character Dances: Polchinelle (The Clown)
09. The Nutcracker, Op.71 – Act 2 – No. 13 Waltz Of The Flowers
10. The Nutcracker, Op.71 – Act 2 – No. 14a Pas De Deux: Intrada
11. The Nutcracker, Op.71 – Act 2 – No. 14b Pas De Deux: Variation I (Tarantella)
12. The Nutcracker, Op.71 – Act 2 – No. 14c Pas De Deux: Variation II (Dance Of The Sugar-Plum Fairy)
13. The Nutcracker, Op.71 – Act 2 – No. 14d Pas De Deux: Coda
14. The Nutcracker, Op.71 – Act 2 – No. 15a Final Waltz
15. The Nutcracker, Op.71 – Act 2 – No. 15b Apotheosis
16. Eugene Onegin, Op.24 – Entracte
17. Eugene Onegin, Op.24 – Act 2 – Valse
18. Eugene Onegin, Op.24 – Polonaise

One of the very best–why is it ignored?

The Leningrad-born conductor Semyon Bychkov was only 26 when he made this complete Nutcracker with the Berlin Phil. He had debuted with the orchestra the year before but had already taken them on a Geman concert tour, the first time a guest condcutor was invited to (one suspects that Karajan’s abrupt departure from the podium led to a sudden vacuum). In any event, Bychkov was the real thing, an accomplished musician with lots of good ideas.

This Nutcracker yields to none in terms of orchestral virtuosity, but it is also light and springy, carefully detailed but never fussy. A delight in every way, I would say. No doubt you’ve never heard of it, even though it rivals Previn, Temirkanov, Jansons, and Dorati. In my opinion it excels them all, but then, I can’t account for what happened to Bychkov’s career.

Now 51, he did a stint with the Buffalo Phil. in the late Eighties–never a great career move–and is now relegated to a provicial German radio orchestra in Cologne. He’s on the comeback trail with a recent well-reviewed Ein Heldeleben and a current Daphne on Decca starring Renee Fleming.

There are lots of early Bychkov recordings on Philips besides this Nutcracker–I own a splendid Rachmaninoff Second Sym. and Shostakovich Eighth, along with an acclaimed Eugene Onegin. But a lot of other CDs, especially those done with the Orchestre de Paris, are out of print. We’ll have to wait and see if this outstanding musician gets reborn. He deserves a major orchestra again. Meanwhile, here is a lyrical, dream-like Nutcracker which takes us into the realm of fantasy beyond any other reading I’ve ever encountered. Highly recommended.

1 Comment

  1. I didn’t know this performance of Nutcracker, and it’s marvellous, with impressive sound. Many thanks!

Leave a Reply