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A chamber-music quality 'Nutcracker' -

'... closer to what Tchaikovsky had in mind.'

Tchaikovsky: Symphony No 4 - Nutcracker Suite. © 2002 Zig-Zag Territoires

The Anima Eterna orchestra is among those that have extended original instrument performance to the Romantic repertoire and, indeed, instruments and performance techniques have changed considerably since the late nineteenth century. Orchestras were generally smaller than today. Tchaikovsky's strings were gut rather than metal and were played with little vibrato. Woodwinds were made of wood. (So that's where the name came from.) Tchaikovsky's love of Mozart is seldom apparent partly because of current performance practices. Baroque composers aren't the only ones who might benefit from a review of original instruments and techniques.

While I'm curious about nineteenth century practices, I'm more interested in how the differences sound to the modern ear. Whatever Tchaikovsky expected, his preferences might have changed had he the additional options available today. 'Original' isn't necessarily better.

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Copyright © 21 May 2003 Ron Bierman, San Diego, USA


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