Stravinsky: The Soldier's Tale (Histoire du Soldat) (Complete) Import, Import, Import, Import, Import
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Stravinsky: The Soldier's Tale (Histoire du Soldat) (Complete) [Digital Version]
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Igor Stravinsky had a long and fruitful relationship with Columbia Masterworks, recording all of his works in stunning stereo sound throughout the '60s. However, his 1967 recording of the interludes and underscoring of The Soldier's Tale stayed in the vaults for 40 years, only now reissued and combined with his 1961 recording of the suite to form the only complete recording of The Soldier's Tale conducted by Stravinsky himself! Jeremy Irons lends new narration.
Top customer reviews
I am very surprised for the very eccellent quality of sound, direction of the small ensamble in addition to exceptional performance of Jeremy Irons.
The technical analog recording quality is surprising and better than most recently digital CD!! This CD has became one of the most preferred of my one thousand CD!
Apparently, Stravinsky hesitated to commit the narrated version to disc because he was not satisfied with the English translation of the French text. The present version uses a new narration, but to my American English biased ears, the standard translation "works" better. While Irons has a pleasing voice, he is unable to delineate the three characters (the narrator, the soldier, and the devil) the way three separate actors can. For that reason, when recommending this piece to others, I will continue referring to the superb version featuring Ian McKellen, Sting, and Vanessa Redgrave. (ASIN: B000009HYG)
As a filler, Sony has offered Stravinsky's Symphonies of Wind Instruments in a fine performance conducted by the composer's assistant, Robert Craft.
The remastered sonics are excellent in every respect. It's hard to believe these recordings share provenance with the rather anemic sounding Stravinsky recordings issued in the 1960s.
As for the composer's interpretation, he was notably not a great conductor, but at least we get to hear his pointed, dry, almost acerbic style, which nobody has adopted since then except his acolyte Robert Craft. The freelance musicians form Los Angeles are excellent, more than compensating for the aged composer's fading podium skills, and the two fillers led by Craft are good, if nothing special. In all, I think this release is more a collector's curiosity than an important addition to the Stravinsky discography.
For my taste, the tempi are a bit slow, but from an objective point, none of the tempi are realized as indicated in the score. All of the tempi are related by a 1:2, 2:3, or 3:4 ratio, none of which are observed in this realization. Also, the high voices are over-balanced in places, overcompensating for the increased orchestral brilliance already inherent in the 1947 revision and destroying the blend of some sections.
If "L'Histoire" is also lacking as other reviews suggest, then this release is for the birds and you should look for these great masterworks elsewhere.