Soldiers, according to the text of A Soldier'sTale by C.F. Ramuz, set to music in 1918 by Stravinsky, are not very clever.

Josef the protagonist is typical. Frankly, he was a total dolt; risking and losing all for no reason at all several times over simply because he had no idea that the moral of the entire parable was that one should learn to be happy with what one has.

Whether it was a book foretelling, the future that made him richer than Croesus or the love of a beautiful princess, Josef simply could not resist a challenge.

A Soldier's Tale belongs to Stravinsky's post war phase, wherein the composer had become practically minimalist and intensely Russian. World War I and the Russian Revolution had taken its toll.

As in LesNoces, the melodic lines that eased and enhanced the percussive elements of earlier works like Petrouchka are largely absent.

The performance of this Stravinsky masterpiece and period piece in the Palace Courtyard on July 14 followed the performance of Les Noces the day before.

Stravinsky is not a composer whose works are extensively played in Malta and these two works do not offer the composer's more lastingly popular side to the listener.

With those pianos onstage, in addition to the four pianists, I would have appreciated a performance of the arrangement for four hands of The RiteofSpring divided among the four pianists as in the serenade for instance, instead of that Stravinsky and Blok piece and the rather tedious pieces that preceded LesNoces the day before. Maybe next time.

The scoring for violin, clarinet, bassoon, trumpet (cornet) trombone, double bass and percussion is the format that is generally accepted today, although the narration is usually split between three actor-singers with the added ability to dance about a bit.

Last week's performance featured a solo by Silvia Fanfani who, after one got used to the ItaloAmerican intonation of the English, pulled off a pretty amazing performance with whole episodes of Gollum-like split personality dialogues, excellent miming and good projection. The intriguing musical interludes were directed, as was Les Noces the day before by Gianluca Ruggeri.

There was far too much extraneous noise that evening. Apart from the ubiquitous fireworks, we had a jazz band in Pjazza Regina, another marching band celebrating the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and the general merriment that the new St George's Square holds for children cooling themselves down by running through the water jets (making me very envious as I perspired in the stillness).

A Soldier's Tale is one that requires great attention and these distractions really did detract from the overall effect. The delicately scored musical interludes that enhanced the score were not helped by the snatches of this that and the other coming from the street.

Considering how thick t he palace walls are , and that we were enclosed in a courtyard, the access to which is through a cavernous hallway and with the great door closed, it is extraordinary how open to noise the place is .

One cannot but wonder what the future holds for the theatre piazza by Renzo Piano up the road , but then who am I to comment?

We Maltese are so used to ‘sound pollution' in our lives that we do not even hear it anymore. Bells, bangs, yells; they're all the same to us.

Possibly it is the sound of silence that may unnerve us the most. However, we must be resigned, like the soldier in the tale, to be happy with what we have, and with what we are destined to receive.

Yet had not the soldier had his adventures, there would have been no point in writing The Soldier'sTale, and there would have been no Stravinsky to perform.

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