by Jeff Counts
Instrumentation: 3 flutes, 3 oboes, English horn, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion, harp, strings.
Duration: 7 minutes.
PIOTR ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) - Words like famous or legendary often fall short in description of certain works of art, so far and complete are their reach. Tchaikovsky’s ballet Nutcracker was just such a creation. Like Handel’s Messiah, it has long enjoyed a place of de facto holiday tradition throughout the Western world. Nutcracker was based on the Alexandre Dumas translation of a Hoffmann tale, in which a little girl comes to the aid of her Christmas gift (a magical nutcracker in the costume of a soldier) in his battle with an army of mice. Her assistance is rewarded when her toy transforms into a prince and takes her into his kingdom of sweets and other colorful delights. The subjects of that kingdom each dance for their guest in a series of amazing set-pieces that comprise some of the most gorgeously evocative music Tchaikovsky ever wrote. The “Waltz of the Flowers” occurs late in the second act and serves as the final movement of the suite Tchaikovsky extracted for concert performance in March of 1892.