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A little preview of my “Devil’s Tale” (sequel to L’histoire) CD – which was released June 9, on Ravello records. Congrats to the Western Illinois faculty ensemble on such fine work!!
Mike Fansler, Julieta Mihai, Matt Hughes, Eric Ginsberg, Douglas Huff, Bruce Briney, John Mindeman, Rick Kurasz, Matt Bean
CD Review –
The Devil’s Tale—A Sequel to Stravinsky’s “L’Histoire du Soldat.” Matt Bean, narrator; Western Illinois University Faculty Chamber Players (Julieta Mihai, violin; Matt Hughes, contrabass; Eric Ginsberg, clarinet; Douglas Huff, bassoon; Bruce Briney, trumpet; John Mindeman, trombone; Rick Kurasz, percussion) conducted by Mike Fansler. Ravello. $16.99.
“Ridiculously ambitious and remarkably successful, James Stephenson’s The Devil’s Tale is a thoroughly fascinating continuation of, updating of, commentary upon and expansion of Stravinsky’s L’Histoire du Soldat, using the same instrumental complement that Stravinsky employed and channeling Stravinsky’s wit, sense of the fabulous (in the sense of telling a fable), and dramatic sensibility.
The upshot of the story – whose music weaves wonderfully into the tale-telling, just as it does in Stravinsky’s piece – is that Joe and Hannah escape the Devil’s clutches and, indeed, Las Vegas itself. But at the end, they are walking with their bags along a hot and dusty road – exactly the place where L’Histoire du Soldat begins. So what have they really accomplished, if Hannah’s suggestion that they “begin again” simply leads, indeed, to beginning again? Stephenson is extremely clever throughout The Devil’s Tale in both music and narrative, and although the work is self-limited by the need to know L’Histoire du Soldat, this Ravello recording shows it to be attractive enough on its own so that perhaps some listeners might be willing to try it first and then go back to Stravinsky to find out where the story began (if a circle can ever be said to begin).”
INFODAD.COM: Family-Focused Reviews
Using Igor Stravinsky’s final percussion solo from L’histoire du soldat (The Soldier’s Tale) as inspiration, James M. Stephenson’s theatrical narrative, THE DEVIL’S TALE, picks up right where Stravinsky leaves off. But on this Ravello Records release, the protagonist, Joseph, wakes up at the final drum-stroke and realizes that the Stravinsky was all a dream. He is relieved to still be in Las Vegas with Hannah, his showgirl girlfriend, at his side, where the story begins to unfold. The dramatic and astute plot about Joseph, a pit musician, and Hannah centers around their attempt to escape the city by tricking Sam, a devilish blackjack dealer and Hannah’s manager. Teeming with deceit, temptation, and revenge, the narrative is a confrontation between the natures of good and evil, in which the Devil is played at his own game of guile. Infused throughout with clever palindromes, the story comes full circle by ending just where the Stravinsky begins: on a “hot and dusty road.” Stephenson’s work is captivatingly performed by the Western Illinois University Faculty Chamber Players, conducted by Mike Fansler.
Visit THE DEVIL’S TALE web application to access the digital booklet, videos, and more.