This is one of the true jewels of the Vanguard catalog; Leopold Stokowski's 1967 recording of Igor Stravinsky's "L'histoire du soldat." It features actors Madeleine Milhaud (then-wife of composer Darius Milhaud), Jean Pierre Aumont, and baritone Martial Singher portraying playwright C.F. Ramuz's spoken dialogue as Narrator, Soldier, and Devil, respectively. In its original LP form, this "L'histoire du soldat" was paired with an equivalent French-language version featuring the same cast. It was the first commercial recording made in America with Dolby noise-reduction technology, which had just become available.
The never-named "instrumental ensemble" consisted of players hand-picked from among the best musicians in New York, and the 85-year-old Stokowski leads them with an energy and power that would be the envy of a conductor less than half his age. He is a bit more subdued here than in his "L'histoire du soldat suite," a separate Vanguard recording made on the same occasion, but that might be so as not to show up the actors. One drawback about this performance is that Aumont's English is heavily accented and a little hard to understand at times, and since 1967 a small number of other English versions of "L'histoire du soldat" have appeared. Nevertheless, the quality of the acting here is outstanding, and in the case of Madeleine Milhaud, authoritative, as Stravinsky personally put his stamp of approval on her performances. This CD version of L'histoire du soldat is out of print. Artemis Classics has reissued L'histoire du soldat in a Hybrid SACD form that is to be preferred over all others.