Royal Academy of Music Manson Ensemble & Oliver Knussen - Stravinsky: The Soldier's Tale - Hi-Fi News
The previous UK Soldier’s Tale with an actress narrating (Glenda Jackson) was disastrously cast with Nureyev as the Soldier. Here Harriet Walter does a terrific job of the Flanders/Black English translation while composers Harrison Birtwistle and George Benjamin play respectively the Soldier and Devil. (This composer casting follows a US academic tradition.) There are short complementary works by Stravinsky, Birtwistle and the late Peter Maxwell Davies (two brief, rather lovely canons) – to whom it’s all dedicated. Although no ‘little old man’, as per text, the Devil comes to compelling life here, whereas with a flat delivery and seeming indifference to events Birtwistle leaves Walter to revitalize the dramatic pace. The Royal Academy players are brilliantly responsive to Stravinsky’s jazzy score: brass and winds especially.