Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Crew Review: Maestro Classics' The Nutcracker by Tchaikovsky

Maestro Classics Review

We have been a fan of Maestro Classics since we first received Peter and the Wolf to review several years ago on the Schoolhouse Review Crew. Because we have enjoyed Peter and the Wolf so much, we were excited to have the chance to review The Nutcracker from Maestro Classics, as well. The Nutcracker CD includes the entire ballet score by Tchaikovsky, beautifully performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and narrated by Jim Weiss.

Maestro Classics Review

The Nutcracker from Maestro Classics is just beautiful! It is so well-made! I have loved listening to it with my children. I am sure we will make it part of our holiday traditions from now on.

It begins with a lot of narration over the music as Jim Weiss sets the stage for the rest of the story. He speaks clearly but he doesn't act out the characters. He tells the listener what is happening and what is being said, but most of the action is left to the listeners' imagination.

As the ballet progresses, more spaces pop up where Jim isn't speaking at all. In these moments, the music tells the story until Jim needs to introduce something new or narrate a scene change. It flows naturally and the overall effect is restful, just as an evening at the symphony would be. We don't ever go to the ballet, but we can still enjoy this Christmas tradition.

We listened to The Nutcracker as a family one evening. The children played, but every now and then they asked a question or said something that showed they were listening. Their interest waned a bit as we neared the end, since it is 58 minutes long. Next time, we will probably listen in shorter segments, or put it on for background music during our holiday celebrations.

The CD comes with a booklet that includes the titles of each dance and scene, some information about the harp, a short biography of Tchaikovsky, and a couple puzzles. These are simple, fun word scrambles and crossword puzzles.

If you want to use The Nutcracker for music study or a holiday unit study, there is a corresponding curriculum guide from Maestro Classics. The curriculum guide is a five page pdf document with internet links and ideas for deeper studies. Math, science, history, geography and language arts are covered. Art, music, and ballet are also discussed. These are not complete lesson plans, but they can get you started on discussion and finding additional resources.

The Nutcracker is available from Maestro Classics for $16.98 (free shipping) for the actual CD, or for $9.98 if you download the mp3. You can also find Maestro Classics on social media:

We definitely recommend The Nutcracker from Maestro Classics!  It's a wonderful way to add music study to your homeschool, and broaden your family culture. I can't help but think it will be a great bedtime story/music for our family this holiday season!

April E.

Maestro Classics Review

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