Stewart Goodyear’s Magical Nutcracker For Piano Solo

Review by: Victor Carr Jr

Goodyear-Nutcracker

Artistic Quality: 10

Sound Quality: 10

It’s tempting to scoff at the idea of The Nutcracker arranged for solo piano. After all, Tchaikovsky’s score is a masterpiece of melody and orchestration, and it’s easy to think that removing the latter would make for a lesser, inauthentic experience. Stewart Goodyear’s brilliant arrangement powerfully disproves this notion. So true it is to the style, nature, and spirit of the music, that not long into the performance you forget about the missing orchestra and focus instead on Tchaikovsky’s beguiling music. Indeed, you gain a new appreciation for the fecundity of Tchaikovsky’s melodic and harmonic invention in Goodyear’s exceptionally accomplished performance.

Even so, there’s a limit to what ten fingers can do, and Goodyear’s stirring Battle with the Mouse King Army does not include the military fanfares (played on trumpet in the orchestral version), and we are made to do without the ethereal sound of the children’s chorus in Dance of the Snowflakes. But overall, Goodyear’s playing is cause to marvel. He expectedly brings off the character dances with impressive finesse, but a greater test is in the dramatic passage just before the Battle scene, where Goodyear successfully delineates Tchaikovsky’s harmonically and contrapuntally complex writing to make it sound as clear and powerful as the orchestral original.

Steinway’s recording presents the piano naturally in an ideally balanced acoustic space, so nothing gets in the way of your enjoyment. Highly recommended.



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Recording Details:

  • Stewart Goodyear (piano)

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