It is Christmas Eve (or the 7th night of Chanukah), and the Stahlbaums are having a lavish party in Germany, or Harlem, or 1770s Washington, DC, or a 1970s-esque retro-future, or a cabaret or any number of times and places ... and then the magic happens! [more inside]
The Beatles' music has been a source of several high-profile mashup albums, but Arthur Wilkinson's Beatlecracker Suite is probably the first. It arranges Beatles hits with famous themes and motifs from Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker. Part one, part two.
The Golden Dreydl (streaming audio): a wonderfully... different arrangement of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite. [more inside]
"When Tchaikovsky heard the celesta during a trip to Paris, he wrote a letter to his publisher saying, "get me one of those before another composer steals it." The Sugar Plum Fairy from The Nutcracker couldn't dance without it. We have the history of the celesta -- and hear it in a special performance by Lambert Orkis of the National Symphony Orchestra." From NPR's Morning Edition a look at this relatively obscure instrument that young wizards music are made of. If you can't play or afford the real thing, try the chime.