Naxos And Falletta Offer The Best Soldier’s Tale In English

Review by: David Hurwitz


Artistic Quality: 10

Sound Quality: 10

There never was much doubt about this one. Naxos lined up its “A-Team” in the persons of Tianwa Yang, violin, and conductor JoAnn Falletta, but trumpeter David Vonderheide (wonderful in the Royal March) and percussionist Robert W. Cross also deserve a hearty shout-out, and the fact that I’m not talking about everyone individually doesn’t make them any less worthy. The Soldier’s Tale is one of the fortunate pieces that (usually at least) either gets done very well, or not at all.

That said, complete performances on disc are rare. Picking a language in today’s international marketplace is one reason, while the annoyance factor of having people talk over the music comprises another. I personally loathe spoken narration over music, and so I greatly prefer the suite, which leaves out all of that talking. Still, you can’t dispute that the team assembled here of Fred Child (Narrator), Jared McGuire (The Soldier) and Jeff Biehl (The Devil) do an excellent job of story-telling; and at the end of the day if you haven’t heard the complete work, then you don’t know The Soldier’s Tale.

It only remains to be said that the sonics are excellent, the dialogue crystal clear without obscuring instrumental detail, while the purely instrumental pieces (the various marches, the Pastorale, the Three Dances) leap from the speakers with all of the rhythmic ebullience that Stravinsky intended. Logical competition comes from Stravinsky’s own Columbia recording with Jeremy Irons in the speaking role(s), but there’s a lot to be said for breaking the text up into parts for the individual characters, especially if it’s going to be adapted to a new language to begin with. So here it is: simply the best if you want the work complete, and in English.

Buy Now from Arkiv Music

Recording Details:

Reference Recording: Stravinsky (Sony Classical)

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