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Stravinsky's: The Soldier's Tale

Stravinsky's: The Soldier's Tale

by Roger Waters
$19.99

Rock legend Roger Waters has adapted the narration and recorded Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale – he narrates the whole of this harrowing modern fairy tale himself.

 

When the Devil and the Soldier argue towards the end of the opening section of Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale, the eavesdropper may well feel a very real sense of fear. Roger Waters articulates this violent dispute with so much energy and cold fury, building from climax to climax and thrillingly working himself up into such a rage, that we suddenly sympathize with the drama of the ordinary man who wants too much and who risks too much. In short, this rock star is an outstanding narrator – the founder of Pink Floyd speaks all three roles in Stravinsky’s piece of music theatre: the Soldier, the Devil and the Narrator.

 

The Soldier’s Tale is a disturbing and implacably modern fairytale and at the same time an anti-war piece. It also marks a turning point in Stravinsky’s output. By 1917 the native of St Petersburg was already a star: for years he had been a regular visitor to Paris, his ballets had caused a sensation and he had been acclaimed as a pianist and as a conductor. But the First World War left its mark on the world of music. It was at this juncture that Stravinsky wrote The Soldier’s Tale – its original title is Histoire du Soldat. It is scored for an ensemble of seven musicians: violin, double bass, clarinet, bassoon, trombone, percussion and a small cornet à pistons that is often replaced by a trumpet. The result is an unusual work that combines extreme interiority on the one hand with a gripping sense of drama and remarkable expressivity on the other.

 

Stravinsky has always been a disputed figure in the world of classical music. He was a provocative composer. Audiences have invariably found him controversial, but so too have a number of thinkers. Adorno, for example, felt that he was backward-looking, while also being fascinated by him. By 1917 Stravinsky has already acquired all the hallmarks of his style: a characteristic melodic thrift, experimentation with complex rhythms and harmonic boldness. Yet throughout all of this, he never entirely abandoned the language of classical music.

 

And yet we rarely hear The Soldier’s Tale, with the result that with Roger Waters’ new project a modern classic is rediscovered, a work which because of its particular design as a piece for chamber ensemble and narrator is all too rarely seen in major houses. The Soldier’s Tale may be regarded as the nucleus of Stravinsky’s early period. In the third section of Part One, for example, the composer quotes his own Rite of Spring, while elsewhere there are echoes of Petrushka and The Firebird.

 

The words are by Charles-Ferdinand Ramuz, who availed himself of a number of Russian fairytales when writing it. The plot is more or less as follows. A soldier has ten day’s leave – we are given no further details about the army to which he belongs – and so he returns home, playing his violin as he goes. The Devil appears and offers him a deal, exchanging his violin for a book intended to make him rich. This is indeed what happens, but of course the man does not find happiness through the enchanted book.

Waters deliberately uses a British accent, investing the spoken narrative with a refreshing, earthy note. It is astonishing how well this works: here is a simple soldier speaking with a southern English accent. We hear an artisan talking, someone who brings with him the natural scepticism of the underdog but who in spite of this falls into an insidious trap. Waters then switches seamlessly to a markedly restrained narrative tone – and time and again he conjures up the figure of the artful Devil. As the Narrator he treats the text in an entirely natural way, bringing lots of life to it.

This project is more than a foray into the field of high art. For years Roger Waters has been far more than just the frontman for Pink Floyd. His first work outside the world of rock music was the opera Ça ira, which was first performed in 2005 and which combines an astonishing atonality with a Neoclassicism in the style of a composer like Benjamin Britten. Both here and in other works Waters certainly feels an affinity with this moment in the history of music whenever he has to decide how atonal to make his music. How radical should it be? And how is music related to the Classical and Romantic tradition? This is arguably the most important question that progressive music has to ask itself today. This was also Stravinsky’s question when he wrote The Soldier’s Tale.

The fact that Roger Waters has recorded this work in particular is no accident, for there are personal reasons for his choice. In the first place he has wanted for a long time to engage more deeply with the work of a composer whose weight and occasional inaccessibility may perhaps have much in common with the music of the singer and bass player from Surrey. And in the second place the two world wars have left their mark on Waters’ family, too – he lost his father in the Second World War, while one of his grandfathers was killed in the First.

 

The seven musicians with whom this recording was made are all associated with the prestigious Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival. They play precisely and clearly, mastering a classic that is only apparently easy. The music itself is complex, Stravinsky working with echoes of cabaret music and light music but often changing his time-signatures and introducing passages of bitonality at certain points in the score, where two keys clash with one another. This serves to underscore the crude grotesqueness of the narrative, while ultimately also providing this story about war with its admonitory character. This is a work which even today is intended to rouse its listeners out of their complacency. Roger Waters has brought it to life with total commitment and dedication.

 

This album will be released on 26 October 2018 shortly before the centenary of the signing of the Armistice at Compiègne that brought the First World War to an end on 11 November 1918.

 

TRACKLISTING

1.      The Soldiers March

2.      Slogging Homeword

3.      Airs by a Stream

4.      As You Can Hear...

5.      The Soldiers March (Reprise)

6.      Eventually, Joseph Reaches his Home Village...

7.      Pastorale

8.      The Soldier, Disconsolate...

9.      Pastorale (Reprise)

10.      The Soldier, Slowly Coming Back to Himself...

11.      Airs by a Stream (Reprise) - To Stretch Out on the Grass...

12.      Hey Satan, You Bastard...

13.      Airs by a Stream (2nd Reprise)

14.      Now to be Gained Here...

15.      The Soldiers March (2nd Reprise) - Down a Hot and Dusty Track...

16.      He Doesn't Even Know Himself...

17.      The Soldiers March (3rd Reprise) - Will he Take the Road to Home...

18.      He doesn't have a Home Anymore...

19.      The Royal March

20.      So all was Arranged...

21.      Later that Night...

22.      The Little Concert - Light Floods the Eastern Sky...

23.      The Soldier, with a Confident Air...

24.      Three Dances - Tango, Pt. 1

25.      Three Dances -  Tango, Pt. 2

26.      Three Dances - Waltz & Ragtime

27.      So First a Tango...

28.      The Devil's Dance

29.      The Devil, Confused...

30.      The Little Chorale

31.      The Devil Recovers Some of his Wits

32.      The Devil's Song - All Right! You'll be Safe at Home...

33.      Hm, a Fair Warning...

34.      Grand Chorale (Part 1)

35.      Spring, Summer, Autumn...

36.      Grand Chorale (Part 2)

37.      Steady Now...

38.      Grand Chorale (Part 3)

39.      Steady, Just Smell the Flowers...

40.      Grand Chorale (Part 4)

41.      Now I have Everything...

42.      Grand Chorale (Part 5)

43.      The Princess, all Excited...

44.      Grand Chorale (Part 6)

45.      And so, Off They Go...

46.      Triumphal March of the Devil

IS THIS THE LIFE WE REALLY WANT (VINYL)
On July 6th, Roger Waters will release a limited edition, silver foil numbered, fluorescent green vinyl edition of “Is This The Life We Really Want.” 

 

As his extraordinarily successful US & THEM Tour continues to make its way across Europe & into Latin America, this vinyl edition will be a collectable for Roger’s biggest fans.


TRACKLISTING

 

LP1

SIDE A

1. When We Were Young

2. Déjà Vu

3. The Last Refugee

 

SIDE B

1. Picture That

2. Broken Bones

3. Is This The Life We Really Want?

LP2

SIDE C

1. Bird In A Gale

2. The Most Beautiful Girl

3. Smell The Roses

 

SIDE D

1. Wait For Her

2. Oceans Apart

3. Part of Me Died

Is This The Life We Really Want? (Vinyl) (2LP)

'Roger Waters' last studio album, 1992's Amused To Death, was a prescient study of popular culture, exploring the power of television in the era of the First Gulf War. The long-awaited follow-up, 2017’s Is This The Life We Really Want?, Rogers’s first studio album in 25 years, is an unflinching commentary on the modern world and uncertain times, and a natural successor to such classic Pink Floyd albums as Animals and The Wall. Produced and mixed by Nigel Godrich (Radiohead, Paul McCartney, Beck, U2, "From the Basement"), Is This The Life We Really Want? includes 12 new Roger Waters musical compositions and studio performances.

TRACKLISTING

LP - SIDE A
When We Were Young
Déjà Vu
The Last Refugee

LP - SIDE B
Picture That
Broken Bones
Is This The Life We Really Want?

LP - SIDE C
Bird In A Gale
The Most Beautiful Girl
Smell The Roses

LP - SIDE D
Wait For Her
Oceans Apart
Part of Me Died
Roger Waters The Wall (3LP)

Roger Waters Roger Waters The Wall (3LP)

$74.99

Roger Waters The Wall (3LP)

by Roger Waters
$74.99
'-- Comp. 1 Side A
In the Flesh?
The Thin Ice
Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 1
The Happiest Days of Our Lives
Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 2
The Ballad of Jean Charles de Menezes
-- Comp. 1 Side B
Mother
Goodbye Blue Sky
Empty Spaces
What Shall We Do Now?
-- Comp. 2 Side A
Young Lust
One of My Turns
Don't Leave Me Now
Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 3
Last Few Bricks
Goodbye Cruel World
-- Comp. 2 Side B
Hey You
Is There Anybody Out There?
Nobody Home
Vera
Bring the Boys Back Home
-- Comp. 3 Side A
Comfortably Numb
The Show Must Go On
In the Flesh
Run Like Hell
-- Comp. 3 Side B
Waiting for the Worms
Stop
The Trial
Outside the Wall