Oliver Knussen, Royal Academy Of Music Manson Ensemble, Et Al : Stravinsky: The Soldier’s Tale


96kHz & 192kHz/24-bit, ALAC/FLAC*; Linn CKD552 (supplied by www.linnrecords.com)

The previous UK Soldier’s Tale with an actress narrating (Glenda Jackson) was disastrously cast with Nureyev as the Soldier. Here Harriet Walter does a terrific job of the Flanders/Black English translation while composers Harrison Birtwistle and George Benjamin play respectively the Soldier and Devil. (This composer casting follows a US academic tradition.) There are short complementary works by Stravinsky, Birtwistle and the late Peter Maxwell Davies (two brief, rather lovely canons) – to whom it’s all dedicated. Although no ‘little old man’, as per text, the Devil comes to compelling life here, whereas with a flat delivery and seeming indifference to events Birtwistle leaves Walter to revitalize the dramatic pace. The Royal Academy players are brilliantly responsive to Stravinsky’s jazzy score: brass and winds especially. CB

Sound Quality: 75%

Hi-Fi News Lab Report

Tested in both 96kHz [black] and 192kHz guises [red, peak; blue, RMS] the obvious ‘reflection’ of content at 48kHz (<48kHz is audio, >48kHz is aliasing) suggests a very real problem with the digital master, clearly illustrated here by the fanfare. PM