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Britten: War Requiem / Britten, London Symphony

Release Date: 05/16/2006 
Label:  Decca   Catalog #: 000638902   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Benjamin Britten
Performer:  Dietrich Fischer-DieskauGalina VishnevskayaPeter PearsSimon Preston
Conductor:  Benjamin Britten
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony OrchestraLondon Symphony ChorusHighgate School Chorus,   ... 
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Mixed 
Length: 2 Hours 12 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

BRITTEN War Requiem & • Benjamin Britten, cond; Galina Vishnevskaya (sop); Peter Pears (ten); Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (bar); Bach Ch; Highgate School Boys’ Ch; Melos Ens; London SO & Ch • DECCA 475 7511 (2 CDs: 131:42 Text and Translation) & Rehearsal excerpts

"The composer's own recording, taken during the rehearsals for the London premiere, was a triumph. When it was issued in the following May, I immediately bought it on open-reel tape, the state of the art playback at the time. It was one of Decca’s first analog transfers to CD (9:2). In later years, both the art and the technology of digitizing analog tape improved considerably, so in May 1999 Decca issued an improved transfer under the Read more same number, adding 50 minutes of rehearsal excerpts. John Culshaw had asked John Mordler to prepare chosen bits of the rehearsals, made over an open mike during the sessions, for a unique LP as a 50th birthday present for Britten. But he was appalled at the violation of his privacy, much to Culshaw’s disappointment. Yet in 1999 the Britten estate allowed it to be used as a filler for the reissue. This reissue was already on the market when a Classical Hall of Fame review of the earlier edition appeared (29:4). More recently Decca has made a new transfer of the original tape using 96 kHz 24-bit technology, and this time a new issue number has been assigned in the series “The Originals.” CEDAR was again used to reduce tape hiss, though in a couple of softly sung passages (the opening measures, for one) it seems that excessive intervention was avoided for the sake of preserving the original sound.

It should be added that the booklet reprints the notes by Christopher Palmer from the 1985 booklet and (for the rehearsal) by Donald Mitchell from the 1999 booklet. The original booklet of 1963 had a marvelous running commentary on the textual relationships between the text of the Requiem and the poems of Wilfred Owen, as well as a sensitive note by William Plomer and a revealing commentary by John Culshaw. Incidentally, Culshaw had even more to say in his autobiography, Putting the Record Straight (Viking, 1981). It is unfortunate that none of this has since been included in any of the CD reissues. But the rehearsal excerpts are a valuable insight into Britten’s intentions, which he conveyed so clearly to the participants. The booklet identifies 11 sections of rehearsal excerpts in some detail. The performance itself comes over superbly on a surround-sound system. Culshaw’s exceptional spatial effects (such as he first achieved in his Wagner “Ring” recordings in Vienna) almost make up for the lack of 5.1 surround technique. The boys’ voices float down from a distant heaven just as Britten asked. Anyone who cherishes this masterly work should have this version. It is hard to think of another piece of music that was fixed so firmly in the composer’s own interpretation as this work has been."
FANFARE: J. F. Weber

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Works on This Recording

War Requiem, Op. 66 by Benjamin Britten
Performer:  Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (Baritone), Galina Vishnevskaya (Soprano), Peter Pears (Tenor),
Simon Preston (Organ)
Conductor:  Benjamin Britten
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  London Symphony Chorus,  Highgate School Chorus  ... 
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1961; England 
Date of Recording: 01/1963 
Venue:  Kingsway Hall, London 
Length: 131 Minutes 42 Secs. 
Notes: This selection is sung in English, Greek and Latin. 

Sound Samples

War Requiem, Op.66 / Requiem aeternam: "Requiem Aeternam"
War Requiem, Op.66 / Requiem aeternam: "What Passing Bells For These Who Die As Cattle?"
War Requiem, Op.66 / Dies Irae: "Dies irae"
War Requiem, Op.66 / Dies Irae: "Dies Irae"
War Requiem, Op.66 / Dies Irae: "Bugles Sang, Saddening the Evening Air"
War Requiem, Op.66 / Dies Irae: "Liber Scriptus Proferetur"
War Requiem, Op.66 / Dies Irae: "Out There, We've Walked Quite Friendly Up To Death"
War Requiem, Op.66 / Dies Irae: "Recordare Jesu Pie"
War Requiem, Op.66 / Dies Irae: "Be Slowly Lifted Up"
War Requiem, Op.66 / Dies Irae: "Lacrimosa Dies Illa"
War Requiem, Op.66 / Dies Irae: "Move Him Into the Sun"
War Requiem, Op.66 / Offertorium: "Domine Jesu Christe"
War Requiem, Op.66 / Offertorium: "So Abraham Rose, and Clave the Wood"
War Requiem, Op.66 / Sanctus: "Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus"
War Requiem, Op.66 / Sanctus: "After the Blast Of Lightning From the East"
War Requiem, Op.66 / Agnus Dei: "One Ever Hangs Where Shelled Roads Part"
War Requiem, Op.66 / Libera me: "Libera me, Domine"
War Requiem, Op.66 / Libera me: "It Seemed That Out Of Battle I Escaped"
War Requiem, Op.66 / Libera me: "Let Us Sleep Now...In Paradisum"
War Requiem, Op.66: Requiem Aeternam (Rehearsal)
War Requiem, Op.66: Dies Irae (Rehearsal)
War Requiem, Op.66: Dies Irae (Rehearsal)
War Requiem, Op.66: Dies Irae (Rehearsal)
War Requiem, Op.66: Offertorium (Rehearsal)
War Requiem, Op.66: Sanctus (Rehearsal)
War Requiem, Op.66: Sanctus (Rehearsal)
War Requiem, Op.66: Agnus Dei (Rehearsal)
War Requiem, Op.66: Libera Me (Rehearsal)
War Requiem, Op.66: Libera Me (Rehearsal)
War Requiem, Op.66: Libera Me (Rehearsal)

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 An Historic Performance June 11, 2013 By Andrew MacAoidh J. (Cincinnati, OH) See All My Reviews "This is my elder son's favorite piece of music. He did not, however, have this historic performance, with soloists Britten hoped to have for the first performance." Report Abuse
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