Rattle on the hidden charms of “The Nutcracker”

Posted on: December 15, 2010

In Monday’s (12/13) Wall Street Journal, Pia Catton writes, “Sir Simon Rattle, the British conductor who has led the Berlin Philharmonic since 2002, is in New York this month to make his debut with the Metropolitan Opera. A visit by an international headliner would normally call for a chat about the opera he’s conducting—in this case, Debussy’s ‘Pelléas et Mélisande,’ starting Friday—but today, Debussy will have to wait. On New Year’s Eve 2009, Mr. Rattle, together with the Berlin Philharmonic, recorded a fresh performance of that overly familiar yet underappreciated work of music: Tchaikovsky’s ‘The Nutcracker.’ … During a recent break from his Met rehearsals, Mr. Rattle discussed the process of conducting a work that Americans may greet with an annual roll of the eyes. ‘People here play “The Nutcracker” every Christmas. It’s like the Messiah in England or Beethoven’s Ninth in Japan,’ he said, noting that the repetition gives it ‘almost the curse of being too well known. But the minute you go in to the score, you realize it’s an absolute gold mine of new ideas, new sounds, charm, wit and strange, erotic little gurglings.’ ”

Posted December 15, 2010