Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Nutcracker from Maestro Classics {review}

Maestro Classics - The Nutcracker (review)

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I have mentioned a few times now that I love Maestro Classics, so I'm just going to go ahead and say that I was beyond thrilled to review their new title The Nutcracker!

Last year we reviewed two Maestro Classics titles (Handel and The Sorcerer's Apprentice), and I instantly became a fan.  I have been slowly purchasing other titles and working them into our routine.  Some have accompanied unit studies, and some have been purely for enjoyment during car rides.  The kids have loved the different stories, and I've loved being able to incorporate more music appreciation into our days.  I was actually planning to study Russia in early December with our core curriculum so that we could transition into our first composer study . . . a Tchaikovsky composer study!  What perfect timing that The Nutcracker was offered for review and we could get a little taste of what our holiday studies would entail!

Maestro Classics
This company brings music to life for children.  As a parent, I want to offer my children a diverse education and an appreciation for the beauty in music.  I love Maestro Classics, as they do all the work for me!  They produce kid-friendly productions of classical music that families can enjoy together.  The Stories in Music series offers beautiful music, as well as educational explanations on the composers, history connections, musical techniques, instruments and other elements that help us understand the story and the music.  My kids love the stories, they are soaking up the educational content in an entertaining way, and even my husband and I can enjoy the whole production.

The Nutcracker
The popular story of The Nutcracker, the story of Clara, her Nutcracker Prince and the Land of the Sugar Plum Fairy is brought to us in a mesmerizing way.  It is conducted by Stephen Simon, performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and narrated by master storyteller Jim Weiss.  There are 21 tracks, with a total playing time of 58:01.  Simon has included music from every section of Tchaikovsky's ballet.

This production was a little different than the others we own.  In the other stories, we listen to the story set to music, then there are a couple of educational tracks, followed by the story again so that we can listen for the musical elements we learned about.  The Nutcracker begins with a little information in the Overture, but then we are just immersed in nothing but the story and the music for the remainder of the playing time.  It is a truly spectacular listening experience.

Included with each CD is an Activity Guide.  (If you order the MP3 version of a story, you'll receive a digital activity guide.)  The activity guides are fun and educational at the same time.  The Nutcracker guide includes background information about the history of the ballet, the harp and Tchaikovsky, as well as some fun word puzzles.  These are a great way to introduce the kids to more than just the story, as well as review the story.  Maestro Classics also has full curriculum guides for free on their website, and they have a multitude of lessons, activities, and crafts; there is certainly enough to create a full unit study.  Imagine my delight, as I plan on using the booklet and curriculum guide in December as part of our Tchaikovsky study.

What Did We Think?
Beautiful, as expected.  I did choose not to listen to this one repeatedly for now, as we've done with the others.  Since we are planning an in-depth study soon, this was a great "introduction" of sorts to get us excited, but we will definitely be listening to this again in the coming weeks.

This production is perfect for just about anyone.  Families who enjoy the ballet, anyone who likes Tchaikovsky's music or loves the story of The Nutcracker, homeschoolers doing a Tchaikovsky composer study, Jim Weiss fans, or just for a fun Christmas story.  This is a gorgeous retelling of Clare's journey to the Land of the Sugar Plum Fairy.  Weiss is a master storyteller, and Stephen Simon is a master conductor.  I highly recommend The Nutcracker, and every other story from Maestro Classics.

Maestro Classics - The Nutcracker (review)

Members of the crew also reviewed the classic Peter and the Wolf, so be sure to check out the rest of our reviews!

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Maestro Classics Review

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