Portrait of Stravinsky by Robert Delaunay

Portrait of Stravinsky by Robert Delaunay, in the Garman Ryan Collection Photo: Public Domain

Avan Yu (piano) / Eckehard Stier (conductor)

Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra

Tonight’s concert by the APO includes Ravel’s Piano Concerto for Left Hand, Carl Nielsen’s Fourth Symphony and Stravinsky’s ‘The Soldiers’ Tale’.

Stravinsky had cleverly designed the music so it was detachable from the theatricals, and the suite we’ll hear tonight essentially contains all the original music. Stravinsky called it his “final break with the Russian orchestral school,” not only writing Western genre pieces – tango, pasodoble, Lutheran chorale – but borrowing from jazz, which he’d recently discovered.

Despite this, and despite the creator’s desire to universalise it – Stravinsky said the Soldier “was very definitely understood to be a victim of the then world conflict” – the story was very Russian, coming from a 19th century collection of folk tales Stravinsky had mined before. The Soldier sells his violin to the Devil in exchange for unlimited wealth. He duly becomes rich but realises that these are “false things, dead, rotten … I am a ghost among the living”.  (APO)

This performance was recorded live at The Auckland Town Hall by Radio New Zealand