Stravinsky's L'histoire du soldat, or The Soldier's Tale, has been translated into English before, as well as other languages including Inuktitut. Something about its fusion of an ancient fiddle-and-devil story with the urgency of World War I has proven to be of broad appeal. But it's never had a treatment quite like the one it gets here from Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters. He uses an existing English translation by Michael Flanders, but he executes several additional layers of adaptation. First of all, he makes Stravinsky's homeward-bound soldier British, which in Waters' earthy British accent sounds like the most natural thing in the world. More challenging is his treatment of the text: where the original calls for three speakers to represent the soldier, the devil, and a narrator, Waters voices all three parts in the manner of a parent telling a story to children. In the action-packed tale by C.F. Ramuz, this would seem quite difficult to do, especially given the rampant changes in time signature, but Waters approaches the task with the necessary relish. He gets the necessary flexible support from a septet of musicians (the music is played straight) from the Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival. The CD booklet contains the text, which isn't really necessary, but says nothing about the genesis of the project. However, it's easy enough to see how it fits in with the major concerns of Waters' career. Sample anywhere with Waters speaking; the music is broken up into dozens of tiny sections for no good reason. Much more than the usual rock musician's vanity project.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|The Soldier's Tale|