Who better to narrate a Russian folktale than the frontman of English rock band Pink Floyd? On October 26, Hamptonite Roger Waters released a new interpretation of Igor Stravinsky’s famous theatrical work The Soldier’s Tale (1918) in celebration of its 100th anniversary.
Recorded on the East End at the Bridgehampton Presbyterian Church, Waters narrates the updated text with musical accompaniment provided by the Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival musicians. The acoustics of the simple building provided what Waters describes as “an amazingly beautiful piece of recording.”
The piece was originally written for an ensemble of three actors, dancers and seven instruments. However, in the new 46-track album, Waters narrates and plays all the characters in the story: soldier, devil, princess, king and “the bloke in the pub,” as he puts it.
Based on a Russian folktale, Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale (L’Histoire du soldat) tells the journey of a man coming home from war, who gave his fiddle to the devil in exchange for wealth, but must now face the consequences. It acts as both a modern fairytale and a profound anti-war piece.
In the trailer, Waters explains that Stravinsky grappled with the aftermath of the Russian Revolution and World War I and tried to determine how humans can avoid indulging themselves in further confrontations that cause such insurmountable pain to millions of people. This is especially pertinent to Waters, as he lost a grandfather in WWI and his father in WWII.
He also discusses portraying such an iconic early 20th century piece, “I’m hugely proud of it and feel hugely honored to have been given the opportunity to be even part of the production.” This isn’t Walters’s first dip into high art; he wrote and produced his first opera score, Ça ira, in 1988, which hit the stage in 2005.