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Britten: War Requiem Hybrid SACD - DSD

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

For his first LSO Live recording, Gianandrea Noseda is joined by three of today's most widely acclaimed singers for a magnificent performance of Benjamin Britten's choral masterpiece. Premiered 50 years ago, the War Requiem saw its composer unite many of the themes that ran through his music and beliefs. Britten had been commissioned to write a work for the re-dedication of Coventry Cathedral, which had been destroyed during devastating bombing raids on the town during the Second World War. As a young man, Britten had written many choral works based on religious texts before achieving fame as a composer of opera. He was also a pacifist and a conscientious objector during the War. Using the Latin mass of the dead, interspersed with texts by war poet Wilfred Owen, he created a work that both mourned the dead and pleaded the futility of war. Leading the London Symphony Orchestra and London Symphony Chorus, Noseda is joined by soloists Ian Bostridge, Simon Keenlyside and Sabina Cvilak.


This is an important issue: Noseda's judgement of pace is unerring, and the orchestra and chorus simply superb. --BBC Music Magazine

The London Symphony Orchestra and the London Symphony Chorus are the performance s rock: they start on top form and stay that way. Another essential recording. --The London Times

The London Symphony Orchestra and its Chorus are on cracking form, and the soloists are as good as you will get...Sabina Cvilak sings with a freshness and edge that make you sit up...Noseda s dramatic, pulsating account represents another landmark. 5 Stars --Financial Times

Disc: 1
1. Requeim aeternam (Requiem aeternam)
2. Te decet hymnus
3. What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
4. Kyrie eleison
5. Dies Irae (Dies irae)
6. Bugles sang, saddening the evening air
7. Liber scriptus
8. Out there, we've walked quite friendly up to Death
9. Recordare lesu pie
10. Confutatis maledictis
See all 18 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. Sanctus (Sanctus)
2. After the blast of lightning from the East
3. One ever hangs where the shelled roads part/Agnus Dei (Agnus Dei)
4. Libera me (Libera me)
5. It seemed that out of battle I escaped
6. None, said the other
7. Let us sleep now/In paradisum
8. Requiescant in pace

Product Details

  • Orchestra: London Symphony Orchestra
  • Conductor: Gianandrea Noseda
  • Composer: Benjamin Britten
  • Audio CD (May 8, 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Hybrid SACD - DSD
  • Label: Lso Live
  • ASIN: B00713Y2R6
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #177,617 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

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Wow, this recording is superb!
It's a very private piece that is intensely moving.
Andrew R. Barnard
I am curious to see which one is better....

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
To commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of what is - let's face it - the iconic pacifist statement of the last century, the London Sym. reprises its role as the orchestra that premiered the work. Britten was the conductor in 1962, Decca supplied state-of-the-art sound, and the appearance of soloists from three combatant nations (Fischer-Dieskau, Peter Pears, and Galina Vishnevskaya) turned a moving musical event into an instant classic recording. The War Requiem quickly found international acceptance, with even Karajan performing it (although Stravinsky was unmoved and made a snide comment about hankies at the ready); besides the famous original, one can find an equally eloquent performance under Giulini on BBC Legends. I've heard six or seen performances, both live and on disc, and the best came from Rostropovich, who made a specialty of the work - since Britten was a close friend and Vishnevskaya his wife, Rostropovich had extra reasons to offer extremely powerful readings. It's regrettable that he never recorded the work; A BSO performance around 2001 featured Thomas Quasthoff as baritone soloist, and one would like a recording of that, too (a pirated tape taken off the radio broadcast is in circulation online).

With such a daunting background, any new War Requiem must present itself as special, and this one is. It is sueprcharged emotionally thanks to Noseda's urgent conducting, very much tinged with Verdi and opera in general. The chorus tiptoes in like the conspirators from Un Ballo in Maschera, and with the London Sym. Chorus trained to the hilt as dramatis personae, they make as great an operatic impact as the chorus in the Verdi Requiem. On those two counts alone, along with an impeccable boys' choir, this new version is gripping and satisfying.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 22, 2012
Format: Audio CD
Though there are many very fine recordings available now of Benjamin Britten's WAR REQUIEM - a work for massive forces including a large orchestra and chorus, three vocal soloists capable of bravado and poetry all in one work, a chamber orchestra, a boys' chorus and an organ - and each has its virtues. This live recording from London's Barbican Hall, a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the work's premiere, is under the grand operatic leadership of Gianandrea Noseda, an Italian conductor who studied piano, composition and conducting in Milan and polished his skills under the tutelage of Donato Renzetti, Myung-Whun Chung and Valery Gergiev: he is at 48 years of age a growingly important conductor in both Europe and the US.

Here he conducts the London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, the choir of Eltham College (a boys' choir), and the soloists Ian Bostridge, Simon Keenlyside and Sabina Cvilak. The tempi are noticeably different than those we are used to hearing, but the overall effect is one of operatic proportions - Noseda captures the desperate, brutal atmosphere that often prevails in this work, as well as the vulnerable, beseeching and all-too-human pleas beneath its roiling surfaces drawing out the work's sense of doom with deep orchestral sound anchored by deep, rumbling percussion and capped by taut, powerful horns and trumpets. The tolling bells that bookend the work are chilling.

The soloists respond to the demands of the score well. Sabina Cvilak manages the excruciating tessitura and leaps of her passages with authority. Ian Bostridge suits the tenor role as well as any singer on record. Wilfred Owens' poetry has rarely if ever been so well enunciated or communicated as it is in Bostridge's resources.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Abert TOP 1000 REVIEWER on October 15, 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Some listeners welcome Ian Bostridge and Simon Keenlyside's renditions, some disagree.
I would say that to a certain extent, both gentlemen are able to give a representative performance of the solo pieces and duets with their clear enunications and emotionally highly committed singing.
The orchestra is quite awe-inspiring, and even if you are not exactly in the mood for such work, you would not miss the central theme with this splendid orchestration by Britten, splendidly performed by the LSO here.
The original performance (world premiere) had the soprano part sung by the great Galina Vishneveskaya (Britten/Pears). Sabina Cvilak, however, is a relative unknown to Western operatic world.
A young Slovenian soprano, Ms. Cvilak is destined to become the next operatic superstar soprano.
I heard her live as Mimi in La Boheme a couple of years ago, and kept wondering since while this wonderful artist is not being engaged to Salzburg, to Munich, to La Scala, to Vienna, to MET...
Her voice is a pure ray of golden gleam, seamless, pure and without a single trace of Slavic edge (I don't know how can one hear such in THIS recording, at least).
Sabina has a tremendous stage presence and wonderfully tasteful acting ability.
If you would allow, I would just recommend this recording unreservedly for Ms. Cvilak alone, despite that all others perform equally splendidly here.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By enthusiast on September 22, 2013
Format: Audio CD
The War Requiem is made up of an imaginative setting of the Latin Requiem Mass along with songs that set some great war poetry. That the Latin parts owe a debt to Verdi is not the point for their function is surely more conceptual than truly religious. They form a framework for the settings of poems and it is in these that Britten is most clearly inspired to move us. It is where they colour and "leak into" the mass settings that the Latin passages gain real power.

This live account presents the Latin parts very effectively indeed - the chorus is excellent and there are a number of exciting moments - but perhaps with too much of a separation from the poetry settings. With the songs the results are less perfect and they can sometimes sound reduced almost to the extent of playing a sort of recitative role. All three singers sing well but two of them are clearly not as strong as others have been in this work. Ian Bostridge has a lovely voice and is very experienced in singing Britten but on this hearing his tone is sometimes a little thin, grey or light for this work. More strength is needed, I think. At the same time he seems unable to ascape from the shadow of Peter Pears. Some of his phrasing owes much to Pears and yet fails to carry the same passion and meaning. Perhpa he will do better with Pappano when his version is issued. Simon Keenlyside's voice is also attractive enough but is very light and lacks richness. Particularly when the two sing together, one is particularly aware that more can be made of these songs and that better teams have recorded this great work. I am happier with Sabina Cvilak's voice. Her pure tone and perfect tuning rise out of, and ride on, the overall sound in a way that the two men mostly fail to do.

So a good account and I am happy to have it.
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