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For his debut recording with Linn, conductor Oliver Knussen has assembled an impressive cast of contemporary composers for The Soldier's Tale: Harrison Birtwistle as the soldier and George Benjamin as the Devil, with actress Dame Harriet Walter as the narrator. The longest work on this disc, The Soldier's Tale mixes fiendishly difficult changes of time signature with Stravinsky's newly discovered love of jazz with melodies which echo his larger pre-war scores. It is also a work that demonstrates immense clarity and moving simplicity at times, and a sardonic wit at others.
With such a starry cast this recording will be of particular interest to those with an interest in contemporary music, especially considering the addition of two new Birtwistle world premiere versions of Chorale from a Toy Shopwritten specially for the recording.
The rest of the programme includes an exquisite Knussen arrangement of Maxwell Davies's Canon ad honorem Igor Stravinsky, intermixed with Stravinsky's own late commemorative miniatures.
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"...Knussen's account of the score, alongside a generous collection of miniatures by Birtwistle, Maxwell Davies and Stravinsky, is crisp and alert, securing excellent playing throughout, and Harriet Walter's narration is a delight. Excellent sound and presentation." *****
Guy Weatherall - Classical Music magazine - May 2017
'Anyone who knows Knussen's magical disc of seemingly intractable late Stravinsky (DG, 10/95) or his unbeatable Fairy's Kiss (DG, 11/97) will want this one too.'
David Gutman – Gramophone magazine – March 2017
'...the playing of the Royal Academy's Manson Ensemble is taut, fearless and detailed.' ****
Kate Molleson – The Guardian – 16 March 2017
'Harriet Walter’s lively Narrator is paired with two august composers in the other speaking roles.' ****
Richard Fairman – Financial Times – 17 March 2017
'[A] remarkable disc...'
Paul Driver - The Sunday Times - 26 March 2017
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Chandos Records is one of the world's premier classical music record companies, best known for its ground breaking search for neglected musical gems. The company has pioneered the idea of the 'series' and proudly includes series of such composers as Prokofiev, Tchaikovsky, Parry, Walton, Grainger, Berkeley and Bridge. Renowned for its superb sound quality, Chandos has won many prestigious awards for its natural sound.