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London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Don Jackson - The Nutcracker Print E-mail
Thursday, 01 December 2005
ImageDTS Entertainment
performance 4.5
sound 5
released 2005

Look, there are some things you just gotta do. Fathers have to tickle their kids. New cars gotta be opened up on the freeway to see what they’re made of. Cops have to be addressed respectfully after they’ve pulled you over. You gotta pop bubble wrap. And in the December issue, I have to review a Christmas album.
Not just any of the hundreds of new works released each holiday season. Not something fresh and unusual, no sir. Not A Pinko Punk Rock Christmas, nor the Swinging Tree Sitters Branch Out, not Iggy Pop Sings Santa’s Silly Favorites, nor Richard Simmons Gets Behind Christmas, certainly no reissues by Spinal Tap.

Nope. Despite rumors, even evidence to the contrary, we here at Audio Video Revolution are traditionalists at heart. Green needles over silver foil.
Chuck Berry and Barry White over the White Stripes. And the Nutcracker uber alles. The Nutcracker rules.

Of course, if you’re like me (and I know you are), you got sick of it years ago. Too many TV specials. Too many darling little nieces on stage. Too many of those same wretchedly familiar opening notes of Snowflake Waltzes and Mirliton Dances and Coffee, Tea, Chocolate or Me and just how Plum do you like your Fairies, Sugar?

So imagine my surprise and delight as I unclenched my teeth and loosened my animal grip on the armchair as the first notes poured out of my 5.1 speakers and filled, hallelujah, filled! the space with the sweet sounds of a symphony orchestra playing in my living room, all around me.

I’m not going to pretend I retained enough knowledge and familiarity with all those versions to be able to make critical comparisons to the ‘Cracker that conductor Don Jackson and his London Symph lay down here. I can say it doesn’t sound radical, nor particularly distinguished, nor even as energetic or dynamic as some I recall. It’s a good Nutcracker, well executed. So let’s just jump ahead and get to what you really want to know about this little piece of Christmas plastic.

As small as my sampling is so far of 5.1 mixes, it was immediately obvious this is one of the better ones. Ohhhh, yeah. Eyes and ears open a little wider, a smile rearranges the lips, and the first thought is, Yes, this is how it’s supposed to be. That’s the way …. God planned it ….

Luxuriating in the full sound surrounding me, I gradually got just a little picky, listening and hoping for more separation and delineation of the instruments than there was. Then I heard the tiniest little Christmas bell tinkling, barely audible, buried in the swirling, sweeping strings and horns, sounding as though it were very far away, as if in a manger, yet unquestionably a part of the musical potpourri. And it was then that I understood the true meaning of Christmas. And 5.1.

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