Related Reviews
BBC Music Magazine
4½ Stars
Performance 4 / Recording 5: 'For anyone wanting an English language account of this key Stravinsky masterpiece...this set has much to offer....the disc merits a strong recommendation.'
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Fanfare
'...this new release joins this exalted company in my pantheon...an unequivocal recommendation.'
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Pizzicato
Supersonic Award: 'The musicians from the Royal Academy of Music deliver a fresh and at the same time mature version of these works.'
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Scherzo
'Linn Records has assembled an impressive cast in a very attractive version of Igor Stravinsky's The Soldier's Tale.'
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HiFi Sound
'...this Linn Records set sounds crisp, vibrant, and entirely captivating.'
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Diapason
4 Stars
'The remarkable musicians of the Royal Academy of Music Manson Ensemble forget their (relative) lack of truculence with exemplary energy and daring.'
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Kerk en Leven
'...fascinating and enchanting...'
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MusicWeb International
'...the young players of the Royal Academy really revel in these and play with guts and a swagger which must be just what Stravinsky intended.'
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The Arts Desk
'...as versions of the original go, this new one is a winner. It's conducted, brilliantly, by Oliver Knussen, leading a flawless student ensemble.'
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The Art Music Lounge
'In short, this is a terrific release, so good, in fact, that I chose to replace the Nagano-Sting recording with it in my collection.'
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Crescendo
5 Stars
'Oliver Knussen offers a sharp and lucid reading...'
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The Scotsman
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The Sunday Times
'[A] remarkable disc...'
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Europadisc
'...this new account goes straight to the top of the pile...a dazzling account of a modern classic.'
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BBC Radio 3 'Record Review'
'The chief delight is the characterful brilliance of the instrumental playing from the RAM ensemble under Oliver Knussen.'
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Financial Times
4 Stars
'Harriet Walter’s lively Narrator is paired with two august composers in the other speaking roles.'
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The Guardian
4 Stars
'...the playing of the Royal Academy's Manson Ensemble is taut, fearless and detailed.'
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Gramophone
'Anyone who knows Knussen's magical disc of seemingly intractable late Stravinsky (DG, 10/95) or his unbeatable Fairy's Kiss (DG, 11/97) will want this one too.'
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Royal Academy of Music Manson Ensemble & Oliver Knussen - Stravinsky: The Soldier's Tale - All Music


17 May 2017
All Music
Blair Sanderson
4½ Stars

The centerpiece of this 2017 release on Linn Records is Igor Stravinsky’s L’Histoire du soldat (The Soldier’s Tale) in an English translation, which features Dame Harriet Walter as the Narrator, Sir Harrison Birtwistle as the Soldier, and George Benjamin as the Devil, supported by the Royal Academy of Music Manson Ensemble, conducted by Oliver Knussen. However, the album is much more than a complete and highly entertaining performance of this innovative theatrical work, which was one of Stravinsky’s most influential yet inimitable compositions of the period following World War I. Almost equally deserving of attention are the short compositions that serve as a frame for L’Histoire du soldat, and which share an affinity with it through their dry sonorities, closely woven counterpoint, and apparent lack of emotional affect. These aphoristic pieces by Stravinsky (Fanfare for a New Theatre, Double Canon Raul Dufy in memoriam, and the Epitaphium für das Grabmal des Prinzen Max Egon zu Fürstenberg); Birtwistle (two versions of the Chorale from a Toy Shop and the Tombeau in memoriam Igor Stravinsky); and Peter Maxwell Davies (Canon ad honorem Igor Stravinsky and the Canon in memoriam Igor Stravinsky) point to the rather cerebral style that Stravinsky cultivated as “objectivity,” and the impact his music had on the following generation of composers. The program works surprisingly well as an intellectual exercise, particularly for those who are predisposed toward this aspect of modernism, but most listeners will find L’Histoire du soldat easiest to follow and enjoy as entertainment.


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Related Links

Igor StravinskyIgor Stravinsky
Oliver KnussenOliver Knussen
Royal Academy of MusicRoyal Academy of Music
Stravinsky: The Soldier's TaleStravinsky: The Soldier's Tale