Readers might to surprised to learn that Roger Waters of Pink Floyd fame has adapted, narrated, and performed on a new recording of Stravinsky’s curious chamber work from 1917, The Soldier’s Tale. In L’Histoire du Soldat, Charles-Ferdinand Ramuz’s original text meets a composition typical of Stravinsky’s early period to tell the story of a Russian soldier on leave who meets and makes a deal with the Devil. But this is not Waters’ first foray into the classical world – his opera Ça Ira, inspired by the French Revolution, appeared in 2005 to mixed reviews.
Waters is on firmer ground with The Soldier’s Tale. Stravinsky’s theatrical work “to be read, played, and danced” appears rarely on stage, but leading up to the anniversary of its premiere, and of the end of the First World War, we have been given multiple new recordings. Here, Waters has creatively adapted the original English translation of Ramuz’s text, but retains Stravinsky’s score, which appears between his performances of the Narrator, the Soldier, and the Devil.
The music is scored for small chamber ensemble and the Bridgehampton Festival musicians perform with clarity and focus. The recording is balanced and clear. Waters himself is outstanding. His narration is natural and earthy, and his characters are lively and animated. As this admirable release suggests, he may have made a wonderful voice actor in another life.
Composition: The Soldier’s Tale
Performer: Roger Waters nar, Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival Musicians
Catalogue Number: Sony 19075872732