Finding unexpected resonances between Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker” and “Pathétique” Symphony

Posted on: December 12, 2018

“As the holidays approach, like so many of us, I find myself drawn inexorably and happily into the world of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker,” writes conductor David Bernard in Monday’s (12/10) Gramophone (U.K.). “But context can be everything; a little while ago I found myself simultaneously immersed in both The Nutcracker and Tchaikovsky’s last symphony, the Pathétique—the former I was to conduct with the Eglevsky Ballet on Long Island, the latter I was scheduled to perform and record with the Park Avenue Chamber Symphony in Manhattan…. While on the surface one couldn’t find two works that seem more different from each other, diving into both at once, I was stunned at what I found, my perspective changed forever. Because although the Pathétique is portrayed by concert promoters as a somber and anguished ‘musical suicide note’, and The Nutcracker is a delightful sweet to be savored and enjoyed.… When you dig into both you suddenly understand that these two late masterpieces are symbiotically linked, and it is in fact impossible to fully comprehend one without understanding the other…. Both works show [Tchaikovsky] bursting through convention, his innovations free-flowing, and they represent the truly free expression Tchaikovsky sought.”

Posted December 12, 2018