KidTunes: The Soldier’s Tale Introduces Stravinsky to Children
What comes to mind when you think of stories told in classical music? Is it all girly-girly, princessy fairy tales (The Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake), or do you recall the more action-filled stories (The Nutcracker, Peter and the Wolf)? Beautifully-told stories, often with instructive morals, have long been the stuff of both fairy tales and classical music.
The Soldier’s Tale (L’Histoire du Soldat) is the latest entry in the Maestro Classics’ “Stories in Music.” The recently-released CD includes Igor Stravinsky’s music along with a Faustian story by C.F. Ramuz and an introduction to Stravinsky that focuses on his childhood and his travels. Adding an element of fun is “The Amazing Baz Dance Remix,” in which the Amazing Baz “took the original recording, chopped it up, reassembled his favorite parts, and added elements to make it a modern dance track.” There is also a 24-page booklet with the text of the story, a crossword puzzle, introductions to the players, and additional information about “Stories in Music.”
The Soldier’s Tale features the London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Stephen Simon. The story is expressively narrated by Yadu. While there is a princess in the story--an ailing one, at that--the emphasis is on the choices made by ”a soldier on leave from the army [who] trades his old violin for a magic book that can tell the future and make him rich.” What the soldier doesn’t realize is that he has made a deal with the devil that will eventually be his undoing. Along the way he learns “that money does not bring happiness” and in very un-fairy-tale fashion, the soldier and his love do not get to live happily ever after.
Stravinsky is considered the most important of twentieth century composers, and this composition illustrates why. Recommended for ages ten and up, The Soldier’s Tale is a fable that families can enjoy together, as they are entertained by an illustrative story and learn more about music and, most importantly, Igor Stravinsky.