The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is a retelling of E.T.A. Hoffmann's The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, directed by Lasse Hallström and Joe Johnston, and using music from Tchaikovsky's ballet The Nutcracker. The original score was composed by James Newton Howard and recorded by Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel, with distinguished pianist Lang Lang and acclaimed singer Andrea Bocelli and his son Mateo contributing to the music. Said Howard, "Tchaikovsky was one of the great melody writers of all time [...] The colors of The Nutcracker ballet score have become a part of the vocabulary of film music. It's where so much of the nineteenth-century romantic music that I call upon as a film composer is rooted." Indeed, the score is heavily influenced by Tchaikovsky's ballet, featuring instruments characteristic of its design, such as bells, triangle, celeste, piano, a children's choir, and snare drum. The Nutcracker is only quoted at a few critical moments in the film, integrated into the score with enlivened grace. One of Howard's most gifted traits has always been the sincere and soft-spoken manner of his music. He can strip down a score to its most essential parts before unexpectedly leaping across the divide into a momentous sigh of orchestral magic. The music of The Nutcracker and the Four Realms invites and consoles the listener, moving from reminiscent clarinets to exhilarating trumpets ennobled in prestige and grandeur becoming of just such fairy-tale charm. Its story remains, as ever, a classic, and thanks in large part to Howard its emotional relevance continues to endure.