DEC 13, 2018 at 1:30 pm
LEFT COAST CHAMBER ENSEMBLE
Nikki Einfeld, narrator; Cindy Heen, dancer; Anna Presler, violin; Michel Taddei, bass
Jeff Anderle, clarinet; Jarratt Rossini, bassoon; Scott Macomber, trumpet;
Craig McAmis, trombone; Loren Mach, percussion; Jonathan Khuner, conductor.
Igor Stravinsky (1882 – 1971)
The Soldier’s Tale
– The Soldier’s March
– Soldier at the Brook
– The Royal March
– The Little Concert
– Three Dances: Tango, Waltz, Ragtime
– The Devil’s Dance
– The Little Chorale
– The Devil’s Song
– Grand Chorale
– Triumphal March of the Devil
Stravinsky: The Soldier’s Tale
In 1917 the writer Charles-Ferdinand Ramuz and composer Igor Stravinsky found themselves stranded in neutral Switzerland. Foreign royalties for both men were frozen by the Great War and the Russian Revolution. For Stravinsky there could be no further collaboration with the great ballet impresario Sergei Diaghilev, for whom he had already written The Firebird, Petrouchka, and Rite of Spring. To secure much-needed income, Ramuz and Stravinsky decided to set a Russian fairy tale to music, dance, and narration. Stravinsky translated a selection from an old Russian anthology into his Russian-tinged French, which Ramuz then transformed into more elegant literary French, his native tongue. (Our Oakmont Tale will be presented in English.)
Designed to be produced on a shoestring with the simplest of staging and a minimum of participants, the theater piece could be easily presented in small towns and villages within Switzerland. But the timing was off. The work was not finished until the end of the war. The 1918 flu epidemic intervened, and after just one performance in Lausanne, The Soldier’s Tale was mostly forgotten for the next 60 years.
Here is writer Sarah Wallin’s synopsis of the story:
“A young soldier returning from war gives his violin to the devil in exchange for a book that predicts the future economy. The devil must teach the soldier how to interpret the book, so the soldier agrees to go home with the devil for three days. When the soldier returns to his hometown, everyone thinks he is a ghost. He has actually been gone not for three days, but for three years. He starts to despair, but the devil encourages him to put the book’s power to good use. The soldier becomes extremely wealthy, but begins to pine for his simpler old life. He meets the devil again, who sells him his old violin, but he can no longer play. Then a friend tells him that a nearby princess is dying, and the king has announced that whoever cures her will become her husband.
The soldier journeys to the castle, but the devil is already there, disguised as a virtuoso violinist. In order to win the princess’s hand, the soldier must regain his power. He does so by purposely losing all his money to the devil in a card game. The soldier seizes his violin and begins to play. When the princess hears him, she becomes miraculously healed and begins to dance. The devil tries to interfere, but the soldier now has power and forces the devil to dance to exhaustion. The devil succumbs, but warns that if the soldier ever leaves the castle, the devil will take possession of his soul. Years later, the princess convinces the soldier to return to his hometown to see his mother. As he approaches her door, the devil is there, waiting to take him away.”
There is, of course, a moral to this entertaining folk tale: If you make a deal with the devil, you will sooner or later regret it!