The violin is the instrument of the devil. In Stravinsky’s L’histoire du soldat, a young soldier pays a high price for his musical talent. Hillborg and Pärt honour Stravinsky and Britten, while Tüür has written a requiem for a fallen soldier. Artist in residence Janine Jansen is very much alive and has no need of the devil to dazzle with her violin.
A soldier lets himself be tempted by the devil, with the result that he is eventually excluded from his own life. No one recognises him when he returns home from the war. Stravinsky completed L’histoire du soldat in 1918, and it must have been a recognisable theme for the first listeners. With the violin as a key to Stravinsky’s world, artist in residence Janine Jansen plays the role of the young violin-playing soldier.
The composer of L’histoire du soldat is himself honoured in Anders Hillborg’s Mantra-Elegy (Homage to Stravinsky). The work is held together by several of the devilish master’s iconic chords, the Swedish composer Hillborg incorporating them into his own colourful idiom.
In 1976, the Estonian composer Arvo Pärt was so disconcerted by the death of his colleague Benjamin Britten that he wrote a musical in memoriam. The lamentation in the form of a proliferation canon, a Renaissance form, was widely admired. Pärt’s compatriot Erkki-Sven Tüür has composed a requiem for unlived lives, a lament for the soldiers, many of whom were very young, who died in the First World War. Before their lives had even really begun, they were ensnared in mortar fire and trenches. Tüür makes the distance between them and life painfully palpable.