CD: The Nutcracker


Narrator: Derek Jacobi  
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Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet, The Nutcracker, has remained one of the most iconic secular Christmas works since its composition in 1892. Now Septura joins forces with actor, Derek Jacobi, to deliver a spellbinding new take on the work for brass septet and narration. Set on Christmas Eve, in the town of Nuremburg, The Nutcracker tells the story of Clara, a young girl whose favourite present is a nutcracker shaped like a little man, who then turns into a handsome prince at midnight!

From the opening Miniature Overture, a quite mesmerising quality of performance is immediately apparent. The balance and richness of tone between the seven performers is exquisite, as is the apparent ease of the considerable technical demands. The distinctive voice of the respected stage and film actor, Derek Jacobi, is scattered amongst the brass tracks and tells the story with vividly colourful descriptions. The listener is so effectively transported to the world of late 19th Century Christmas, complete with candle- adorned trees, toy soldiers, sugar plums and, of course, a nutcracker in the shape of a smartly dressed young man.

Septura captures the drama of the unfolding story through numerous tracks, the gripping battle sequence between the toys, and the king of the mice proving notably epic in scale and excitement! As the story progresses to the enchanted palace of Confituremburg (in the ‘Land of Sweets’, no less!), the listener is treated to a series of dances that they will likely be familiar with. Highlights include the lively Trepak: Russian Dance, delivered with aplomb, along with the Dance of the Mirlitons, with an elegant refinement, and the famous Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy with a charming air of mystery.

Rarely does a recording project manage to capture each aspect of delivery so perfectly. The outstanding arrangement, by Matthew Knight and Simon Cox, proves to be the ideal vehicle for Septura, which impresses both technically and with the range of emotion it evokes, whilst the recording quality is of the highest standard.

This is world-class in its own right and the perfectly proportioned story, narrated with such enchanting brilliance by Derek Jacobi, elevates this recording to a new level. The Nutcracker is a mightily impressive achievement and is a delightful treat for listeners of all ages this Christmas and beyond!


This review appeared in the November 2019 edition of BBW. For more reviews, articles and news subscribe to BBW Digital, available to read online (annual subscription: £30), or subscribe to BBW's printed magazine delivered by post: £40 (UK); £68 (Europe); £81 (Rest of the World). Alternatively, receive both the Digital and printed editions combined: £55 (UK); £83 (Europe); £96 (rest of the world) - saving 50% on the Digital edition! Click here to subscribe!

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