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Britten: War Requiem / Rilling, Dasch, Taylor, Gerhaher, Et Al

Release Date: 06/10/2008 
Label:  Hänssler Classic   Catalog #: 98507   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Benjamin Britten
Performer:  Annette DaschJames TaylorChristian Gerhaher
Conductor:  Helmuth Rilling
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Aurelius Boys Choir of CalwStuttgart Festival Ensemble
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Multi 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  
SuperAudio CD:  $22.49
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.

Everything firmly and movingly in place: this War Requiem is a great occasion

Helmuth Rilling, at least on British shores (where we fancy that we know exactly how this composer should be performed!) doesn’t have any great reputation for conducting Britten, but here turns in a War Requiem of immense impact. Just listen to the Dies irae and there you have it – the scale is not of strings and drums, but cannons and screams. The shock of war pounds the listener with every bar.

-- Gramophone [11/2008]
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BRITTEN War Requiem Helmuth Rilling, cond; Annette Dasch (sop); James Taylor (ten); Christian Gerhaher (bar); Ens Aurelius Boys’ Ch of Calw; Stuttgart Festival HÄNSSLER 98507 (2 Hybrid multichannel SACDs: 82:40 Text and Translation) Live: Stuttgart

"With 15 commercial versions of this masterpiece in existence, the latest should have something special to offer, and indeed it does. Rilling’s interpretation is as close to the composer’s original recording as I can imagine, making a couple of allowances. Annette Dasch sounds like the first soprano soloist, Heather Harper (in the Coventry premiere and heard on Hickox’s recording), and most other singers of the role, not so much like Galina Vishnevskaya (Britten’s original choice for symbolic reasons first appeared in the London premiere), whose performance was over the top in every way. The boys’ choir is very good, but I don’t hear a quality that Britten called for in his rehearsal, “ethereal.” Yet Super Audio places the boys in the rear speakers, as Culshaw certainly would have done if he could. The tenor and baritone are the usual pairing of English and German singers that Britten wanted (they are also heard in the rear speakers). All three soloists are making their first recording of the work, and they are equally superb.

Helmuth Rilling is a great choral conductor, as his long discography has proved, so we are not disappointed with his interpretation. There is nothing singular about it, nor would we expect such a thing. He is completely in control of his huge forces, captured in a single festival performance at the Liederhalle in Stuttgart. Indeed the last six recordings have been taken this way, while the first seven recordings all originated in the studio. (The Giulini and Leinsdorf versions came from archival tapes of concert performances.) The boys’ choir is unfamiliar, coming from a little place called Calw, west of Stuttgart. Anyone who wants to hear Britten’s masterpiece in digital surround sound will not be disappointed. In many respects it surpasses every other version except the composer’s own unique recording."
FANFARE: J. F. Weber

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Works on This Recording

War Requiem, Op. 66 by Benjamin Britten
Performer:  Annette Dasch (Soprano), James Taylor (Tenor), Christian Gerhaher (Bass)
Conductor:  Helmuth Rilling
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Aurelius Boys Choir of Calw,  Stuttgart Festival Ensemble
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1961; England 

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