Notes and Editorial Reviews
In May 2011, a memorable concert of Britten’s profound, impressive musical protest to war took place. The world-class performance was recorded on Challenge Classics with Jaap van Zweden and the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra. Van Zweden, formerly chief conductor of the orchestra, is chief conductor of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and Hong Kong Philharmonic from season 2012/13.
R E V I E W:
Zweden, Reinbert de Leeuw, cond; Netherlands Radio P O and Ch & Children’s Ch; Evelina Dobracheva (sop); Anthony Dean Griffey (ten); Mark Stone (bar)
CHALLENGE CLASSICS CC 72388 (2 SACDs: 82:44
Text and Translation)
Another live recording of Benjamin Britten’s masterwork comes with equal credit to the conductor and chamber-orchestra conductor. (The latter role, remember, was taken by the composer in the first performance.) This performance is very much in the manner we have heard from many recordings, which are powerfully influenced by the example of the composer’s own. The three soloists (including another Slavic soprano) sound much like the best of their counterparts, the children’s choir (girls and boys) produces a lovely sound, and the main ensembles are thoroughly proficient in music that they must have heard many times before. It is uncanny how closely every aspect of the performance, including tempos, matches the composer’s own, much as Gianandrea Noseda’s recording also did. If anything is lacking, it is some distinctive element that stands out. Everyone gets an A in this, but there is no A+.
The surround sound makes no use of the back channels, which merely add ambience. All of the performers are clustered in front. If you don’t have surround sound, this will make no difference to you, but it is definitely inferior to the superb engineering of Noseda’s stunning effort (
36:1), a clear choice among recent issues. Standing on its own, this is a thoroughly creditable recording with no weaknesses.
FANFARE: J. F. Weber
Works on This Recording
War Requiem, Op. 66 by Benjamin Britten
Evelina Dobraceva (Soprano),
Anthony Dean Griffey (Tenor),
Mark Stone (Baritone)
Reinbert De Leeuw,
Jaap van Zweden
Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra,
Netherlands Radio Choir
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1961; England
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