One of the most grown-up review sites around
One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here
 

 

International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger              Founding Editor: Rob Barnett              Contact Seen and Heard here

Some items
to consider

  • Henze Kammermusik 1958
  • Mozart Flute Quartets
  • Schubert complete piano works
  • Sammartini: 6 Concerti grossi
  • Henze Kammermusik 1958
 
Tudor



CD and Blue-ray Audio


CD and Blue-ray Audio


CPE Bach Cantatas
a revelation


Biber: Sacred Choral Works
Don't miss it


Jonathan Dove


Tommie Haglund
Unique and Powerful music


Organ Fireworks


Highly Entertaining


A triumphant performance


Bruckner Symphony 4
One of the finest I have heard


A most joy-inducing recording


A winning partnership


A Lohengrin to treasure.

 

REVIEW
Plain text for smartphones & printers


Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb



Donate and get a free CD

 

New Releases

Naxos Classical



Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
   
Rob Barnett
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Vacant
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

Support us financially by purchasing this disc from
Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971)
L’histoire du soldat (The Soldier’s Tale) [51:00]
Nederlands Dans Theater Jiří Kylián (choregraphy)
Dancers: Soldier - Nacho Duarte; Devil – Aryeh Weiner; Alter ego – Gerald Tibbs; Mother – Teresina Mosco; Fiancée - Fiona Lummis; Friend of the Soldier - Lionel Hoche; Princess - Karin Heyninck
Other roles: Sabine Kupferberg, Brigitte Martin, France Nguyen, Jean-Louis Cabanè, Martin Corri, Shaun Amyot, Glen Eddy, Phillip Taylor and James Vincent
Narrators: Story teller - Gabriel Cattland; Devil – Phillip Clay; Soldier – Pierre-Marie Escourrou
Musicians: Sjef Douwes (clarinet); Kees Hülsman (violin); Hendrick Jan Lindhout (trumpet); John Mostard (bassoon); Rudolf Senn (double bass); Henk Ummels (trombone); Geer De Zeeuw (percussion)/David Porcelijn
Sound: PCM Stereo
Audio language: French with subtitles in English and German
Picture: 4:3; Region 0 DVD5 NTSC
ARTHAUS MUSIK 100133 DVD [51:00]

His three great pre-First World War ballets and the opera Le Rossignol all employ large or even very large orchestras. By contrast L’histoire du soldat employs a small group of seven musicians together with three actors and a dancer. It was intended to be capable of being toured as a kind of entertainment “to be read, played and danced”. Although performances and recordings of the Suite drawn from it are not uncommon I am in no doubt that the music works best when heard in conjunction with the original text and action.

In the version seen here the action is expanded by the use of additional dancers with the actors kept out of sight. In other ways Stravinsky’s creation with the writer Charles Ramuz is treated reasonably faithfully. We see the Soldier’s mother and Fiancée as well as a few invented characters but the original plot is retained albeit somewhat expanded. Straightaway may I express my pleasure at a producer who does not think they know better than the original authors.

The plot is that of a typical folk ballad. It tells of a soldier returning from service who encounters the Devil who wants to buy his violin. In due course he succeeds, thus in effect obtaining the soldier’s soul. The soldier tricks the Devil into returning it, but in the end he is back in his clutches again.

Stravinsky’s music includes marches, chorales and a group of three dances – tango, valse and ragtime. The sound produced by an instrumental group including violin, double bass, clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, trombone and - given especial prominence – percussion is wholly individual. Even within the composer’s large output it remains unique in its soundworld, which is very well captured here under David Porcelijn and cleanly recorded. However the extension of the dancing in this version means that the choreography tends to attract the listener’s attention most. In its extraordinary and often hyperactive way it does tend to reduce the prominence of the music. The wonderfully characterful movement given to the Devil is especially memorable, This must present an even more formidable challenge in live performances of this version as he is on stage for very large parts of the action. The ballet was apparently filmed in a studio rather than a theatre, permitting both more space and more interesting camera angles.

Although I still believe that in principle the original form of the work, in which dance, acting and music are equal partners, remains preferable, this is a performance of such terrific panache and individuality as to overcome any objections.

John Sheppard

Previous review (Blu-ray): Dave Billinge