Concert preview: 'A Musical Feast' takes on Stravinsky's 'The Soldier's Tale'
Charles Haupt's program to cover Bach to Stravinsky

BY ROBERT PAPE - Special to The News
Updated: 01/25/08 8:01 AM

The menu for the latest helping of Charles Haupt's "A Musical Feast" on Tuesday night is actually more like a smorgasbord. It features a seldom-performed, small-scale Stravinsky tale paired with selections ranging from as early as Bach to a movement from "Quatuor pour la Fin du Temps" ("The Quartet for the End of Time").

That mix is exactly what Haupt, the former concertmaster of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, had in mind.

"I thought it would be something interesting, different," Haupt said of the program anchored by "L'historie do Soldat" ("The Soldier's Tale"), a Faustian allegory written by Stravinsky during the Great War.

In Switzerland in 1918 cut off from his money back in Russia and the Diaghilev Ballet stuck in Lisbon the composer of "The Firebird" and "The Rite of Spring" set out to create a piece that was easier to assemble and take on tour given the situation. The result was "The Soldier's Tale," complete with influences of jazz and a tango.

"It solves a logistical problem," said Haupt, who is staging the work with seven players, conductor Christian Baldini and just one actor for three parts.

That's right. One actor playing three parts. Paul Todaro takes the stage as the soldier, the narrator and the devil. Luckily, costume changes aren't required.

"I'm awed by it, terribly excited to do it," Todaro said. "It's going to be an oral and an aural experience the challenge is to keep people's attention without the visual [of a larger production]."

In preparation for the concert, Todaro said he's rehearsing the soldier "as an everyman" with a distinct Cockney accent, and for the narrator, the voice of reason and the foil of evil, the actor plans to use his own natural voice.

As for the devil, "I'm still thinking what to do for the devil," Todaro said. "That's the beauty of something being live. It's not perfect, and it's not set in stone."

The program also features Bach's Partita No. 3 for solo violin and a movement from Engene Ysaye's Sonata No. 2 based on the aforementioned Bach work. Charles Castleman, chairman of the Eastman School of Music's strings department, will play the pieces on his 1708 Stradivarius violin, "Marquis de Champeaux."

Another wartime composition, French composer Olivier Messiaen wrote "The Quartet for the End of Time" in 1940 while he was a prisoner of war in Germany. Clarinetist Jean Kopperud will play "Abime des oiseaux" ("Abyss of the Birds") from "The Quartet."

PREVIEW

WHAT: " A Musical Feast"
WHEN: 8 p. m. Tuesday

CONCERTS AT

Made possible by the generous support of

Irene Haupt, Photographer


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