- Orchestra: London Symphony Orchestra
- Conductor: Gianandrea Noseda
- Composer: Benjamin Britten
- Audio CD (January 22, 2018)
- Number of Discs: 2
- Format: Hybrid SACD - DSD
- Label: LSO LIVE
- ASIN: B00713Y2R6
- Average Customer Review: 11 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #27,056 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
Britten: War Requiem
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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
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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.
It is not just a memorial to world war 2 but for all the british
soldiers who were killed in both world wars and, unfortunately for the
german soldiers as well. The british aristocracy had ties to the german
monarchy and during the thirties admired hitler as well. The british
aristocracy wanted to avoid war but by their actions, thay made war all
but inevitable. The music attests to those emotions.
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.
Among the vocal soloists, the prize goes to Ian Bostridge. He possesses a reedy, thready voice that I have no liking for, but in this case his delivery of Wilfred Owen's verse is remarkably intelligent and touching, with perfect diction and a wide variety of moods. I would place Bostridge above even Pears in the tenor part. Simon Keenlyside doesn't dramatize the poetry as fervently, and his robust tone mixes peculiarly with Bostridge's thin tone in their duets, yet on every other ground he is first rate, as you'd expect from England's pre-eminent baritone. The soprano has the most thankless part, since Britten wrote a series of difficult declamatory vocal lines set in Latin wile giving her no poetry to move us with (being soldiers' poems, it's appropriate that Owen's words are sung by the men). Vishnevskaya struggled in the premiere recording, and I find that Slovenian soprano Sabina Cvilak does, too; her Slavic wobble isn't pronounced, but it's not appealing, either. She's the reason I am holding back from five stars, although I wouldn't disagree with anyone who didn't hold back.
My only other reservation is that Britten, as a lifelong pacifist, took as his theme the pity of war, which echoes Owen's words and his viewpoint (serving in France in WW I, Owen, who like Britten was gay, survived until almost the very end of the conflict, killed by machine-gun fire as he crossed the Sambre-Oise Canal at the head of a raiding party.). The composer conducted the score with reserve, tenderness, and mournful reflection. Noseda's approach is so biting and edge-of-your-seat that it turns pity into something more visceral and bellicose. Who knows if Britten would have felt betrayed; certainly the audience and critics loved Noseda's interpretation, as I mostly do, too.