Klaus Henner Russius reads E. T. A. Hoffmann’s «Das Märchen vom Nussknacker»
The Nutcracker Suite was Ellington’s first album-length project dedicated to the work of another composer – so it fits perfectly with our seasonal theme, the art of arranging. But that’s not the only thing that makes this recording special in his discography. Looking at the album cover, one immediately notices the central image, which features both Ellington and his longtime musical partner, the composer and arranger Billy Strayhorn – the first time Strayhorn’s image has graced an Ellington cover – as well as the listing of three surnames as creators of the work: Ellington, Strayhorn and Tchaikovsky. This illustrious round is now joined by the fantastic exuberance of E. T. A. Hoffmann and his fairy tale of “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King.” What happens then, you can see and hear at Rigiblick. Every year again. Klaus Henner Russius reads.
Producer Irving Townsend contributed the liner notes to the original release, and in his introduction tells a stunning but completely apocryphal anecdote about Tchaikovsky and Ellington meeting in Las Vegas – the Russian died six years before Duke was born and traveled to the U.S. only once in 1891 to conduct concerts on the East Coast – but Townsend probably meant that it was during Duke’s stay at the Riviera Hotel that he made the decision to adapt Tchaikovsky’s work. Since Strayhorn directed the project, this is not entirely accurate either, but it brings us closer to the background of the album.