What does it sound like?:
Igor Stravinsky composed the music for this tale of a soldier returning from war who meets and subsequently makes a deal with the devil, in 1917. To commemorate the upcoming centenary of the end of World War One, and of course Remembrance Day, Roger Waters has resurrected this piece, adapting the text and taking on the roles of the three principal characters, The Narrator, The Soldier and The Devil. The music is played by a small classical ensemble from the Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival, who first performed this piece with Waters ten years ago. It wasn’t until 2014 though that their music was recorded, while Waters’ narration it seems, looking at the recording locations, was recorded in down time on his European tour earlier this year. I was expecting this to be primarily a musical piece with spoken interludes, but actually it’s more like a radio play or audio book, with relatively brief musical passages interspersed throughout the narrative. There’s no new Waters music here or even any singing of course, and I suppose you could say this sits alongside his previous classical excursion, Ca Ira, in his canon. It is, however, much more accessible than that piece, as Waters gives free rein to his range of accents, something fans of Pink Floyd and his solo albums will be familiar with, to develop the characters and inject anger, humour and pathos into the piece. The BCMF fulfil their side of the bargain admirably, demonstrating excellent musicianship throughout this complicated piece, complementing Waters’ words while never allowing themselves to become a distraction from them. As you’d expect from Waters, the sound is excellent, and this really is well worth a listen even if classical music isn’t normally your thing – it really demonstrates Waters’ talents and creativity to the full.
What does it all *mean*?
Waters’ views on and connections to the two world wars have been widely documented, and man’s inhumanity to man has been a recurring theme throughout his work over the years. With this parable he seems to ask the listener ‘what have we learned’ from those terrible conflicts.
Goes well with…
Trying something different.
Might suit people who like…
Waters/Floyd, Bowie’s ‘Peter and The Wolf’, Lou Reed’s ‘The Raven’.