December is the month of all about Tchaikovsky’s 1892 ballet “The Nutcracker.” With beautiful melodies and astonishing sounds of the orchestra, it is such a treat for you. While “Swan Lake” is poignant and “The Sleeping Beauty” is gorgeous, “The Nutcracker,” set on the Christmas time, is both adorable and grand. Let’s discover the musical highlights of the ballet.
The cello, which is the bass of the string family, does not play to make the music feel “tiny and cute.”○ A Pine Forest in Winter
The nutcracker takes Clara to his kingdom. It starts quietly but gradually reaches a climax that reminds the audience of Tchaikovsky’s symphonies.○ Waltz of the Snowflakes
The group dance moves symbolize flurries of winter snow. It features a chorus of children (or women), which is unusual for a ballet score. The chorus, the harp and the glockenspiel creates sounds that are more sparkly than any other modern movie soundtracks.○ Trepak
It is an upbeat Russian dance music where dancers do the squat-and-kick dance that people often associate with the traditional Russian dance.○ The Dance of the Reed Flutes
Even though it has “reed” in its title, it is played not by the oboe, the clarinet or the bassoon. It is played by the flute, a woodwind without a reed.○ The Waltz of the Flowers
This is a highlight of the entire score. The cello suddenly comes in and disappears, which gives the impression that the male character tries his best to win the heart of the female character.○ The Adagio
The harp plays a broken chord of I-vi-ii-V in the beginning. This is a common chord that is also used in pop music such as “We’re not meant to be” or the piano version of “Heart and Soul.”○ The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy
Tchaikovsky found a new instrument called “celesta” in Paris and asked the sheet music publisher and production staff to keep it secrete to introduce the instrument for the first time in the country.○ Why is “The Nutcracker” short?
Tchaikovsky composed the score to be played together with short opera “Iolanta.” However, since the premier, the two works scarcely been paired.○ Live string performance
In Korea, ballet scores are usually pre-recorded. The live string performance of “The Nutcracker” has been staged, however, with the collaboration of the Korea National Ballet, whose Art Director is Kang Su-jin, and the Korean Symphony Orchestra. This year’s ballet performance will be presented at the Seoul Arts Center from December 12 through 25.