Thursday, October 29, 2015

Maestro Classics–The Nutcracker–A Schoolhouse Review Crew Review

Maestro Classics Review

A couple of years ago Sarah and I were blessed with a gift to see The Nutcracker Ballet. I had never been to see a live ballet before. It was magnificent! Not only the ballet was wonderful, but the music was as well. Having been a music major in college for a while and loving music, I had an appreciation for the orchestra that played the great score written by Tchaikovsky.

When I found out that I had the opportunity to review The Nutcracker by Maestro Classics I was excited. I really want to pass on the gift of music to my children. We have reviewed other great CD’s from Maestro Classics and they were wonderful so I expected none the less with The Nutcracker. I was not disappointed at all. It was fantastic like the rest. Let me tell you why Maestro Classics sets the standard for passing on the love of music to children – at least in my opinion.


Maestro Classics Review
Part of the mission statement for Maestro Classics says that its mission is to “To cultivate a love of music through education and joyful experiences.” I can truthfully say that their version of The Nutcracker did that with my children. When we reviewed some of the other CD’s from Maestro Classics, Joshua was young and Jacob was just a baby. They don’t remember sitting and listening to the others so this was really a new experience for them.
They loved the narration which was written and done by the fantastic Jim Weiss who has done other great storytelling recordings. Of course the story of The Nutcracker is the very enchanting story of Clara, her parent’s Christmas party, the mysterious Dosselmeyer and his anxiously waited for annual gifts, and, of course, Clara’s dream where she dreamed that her gift, The Nutcracker, and all of the other gifts and Christmas decorations come to life in a dream that includes battles, international dances and a visit from the Sugar Plum Fairy herself. Jim Weiss is an expert at telling stories and was superb at telling this one. His voice went right along with the music. He knew when to start, when to stop, and when to begin again. You knew exactly what was going on with the story at each moment in the music.
Of course, however, the main thing about The Nutcracker is the fantastic music by Tchaikovsky performed by The London Symphony Orchestra and conducted by Stephen Simon. As I mentioned above, I was a music major in college and love music, I have had the great privilege of playing the trumpet in many great bands and orchestras and can pick out a great orchestra. The London Symphony Orchestra is one of the best. It truly made the music and the story come to life. You could picture what was going on in “scene” of the music. Stephen Simon did an excellent job of arranging the music so that it included something from each part of Tchaikovsky’s ballet but was not too long for a child of even five years old to enjoy. It was beautiful and just the right length of about an hour.
You might think that just the fantastic narration and music would be enough, but that isn’t all! The Nutcracker also includes a wonderful 23 page booklet that adds to the experience. It briefly explains what is going on in each act and scene so that you can follow along with the narration and music. It also includes very interesting facts about the History of Ballet (Did you know that Louis VIII danced?); The Harp – an instrument used in many of Tchaikovsky’s ballets (I didn’t know a harp had pedals!); and has a fascinating biography of Tchaikovsky himself (Do you know what famous American concert hall Tchaikovsky conducted the inauguration for?). It also has puzzles that help the student to remember different things that they have learned.
But that’s not all! The Maestro Classics website has free downloads that you can use to enhance your study. Boy are we going to have fun with these! There are ten pages complete with websites that you can use to conduct a gigantic unit study based around The Nutcracker. All subjects are included from science to geography to history and on and on. Since The Nutcracker is based around Christmas, I’m going to use many of the resources to do a Christmas around the world unit study during the holidays! There are also more puzzles that you can download and even some sheet music.
I think that you can already tell that we are thrilled beyond thrilled with Maestro Classics and The Nutcracker. This is something we are going to refer to every year during the holidays. I am so glad that Maestro Classics is doing this. My children are gaining a whole new appreciation of music. To find out more about Maestro Classics and The Nutcracker just click on any of the highlighted links above. To find what other Schoolhouse Review Crew reviewers have to say about Maestro Classics, The Nutcracker and the other option we had, Peter and the Wolf, just click on the banner below. Happy Music Listening!
Maestro Classics Review
Crew Disclaimer

No comments:

Post a Comment