Royal Academy of Music Manson Ensemble & Oliver Knussen - Stravinsky: The Soldier's Tale - The Scotsman
This disc from the Royal Academy of Music Manson Ensemble under Oliver Knussen's direction features work composed by Stravinsky and inspired by him. The centrepiece is Stravinsky's Faustian A Soldier's Tale, with actress Dame Harriet Walter as a characterful narrator, composer Sir Harrison Birtwistle as a sardonic Mancunian-accented Soldier, and George Benjamin as a charmer of a Devil. The musical performance is one of stinging clarity and incision, qualities that feature consistently in the selection of miniature Stravinsky tributes that also fill this disc. From the punchy, explosive burst of Stravinsky's own Fanfare for a New Theatre and Peter Maxwell Davies' elemental Canon ad honorem Igor Stravinsky and Canon in memoriam Igor Stravinsky, to Birwistle's austere Chorale from a Toy Shop (2 versions) and his ghostly Tombeau in memoriam Igor Stravinsky, these are thoroughly refreshing performances, characteristic of Knussen's cool and calculated directorial style.