Notes & Reviews:
Seldom performed or recorded, Britten's 'War Requiem' may be one of the largest and most shaking works of the 20th century. The work was an immediate success following its premiere in May 1962 for the rededication of Coventry Cathedral, which had been destroyed during the battle of Britain in World War II. In this performance by Helmuth Rilling, the maestro has called upon some of the finest singers in Europe and presides over the massive canvas with a deep sensitivity to the work's texts and intent, creating a truly shattering performance.
Rilling is undoubtedly an efficient choir trainer - the Festivalensemble Stuttgart manages even the trickiest passages of Britten's choral writing with suave assurance
Gramophone Classical Music Guide
A wonderful performance and a most moving experience. Critically, one must keep the experience (subjective) as distant from the relatively objective facts of the performance as possible: on this occasion that wasn't very easy, or even desirable. Certainly all the elements in this complex organisation are well served. The soloists are admirable, Annette Dasch pure in tone, powerfully concentrated in style, James Taylor a tenor whose voice can respond to what is gentle and compassionate in his music as to the unsparing harshness, and Christian Gerhaher authoritative, humane and (like the others) entirely firm in his singing. The choir is fine in blend, precision and enunciation; the boys' choir, too, ideal in its embodiment of unsanctimonious sanctity. For the chamber ensemble and full orchestra, only admiration, as for the recording's producer and engineer who have dealt so well with the difficult task of keeping these elements distinct and unifying them at the same time. Above all, we must honour their conductor, whose mature guidance is everywhere in evidence.
It's the sense of unity that has distinguished this experience of the War Requiem most especially.
Rarely has it moved with such logic. That seems a strange word to use in the description of what was so deeply emotional, yet it's right. For the first time the work moved with the singleminded force of a geometrical theorem. Darkness and light, war and peace, noise and quiet are the unifying opposites throughout. The selection and sequence of Owen's poems are so wellfitting that the line - can you call it 'of argument'? - is unbroken and all goes forward to the almost painful easement of 'Let us sleep now'.
Do to try it for yourself.
Classic FM Magazine
The orchestra sounds almost human in its emotional involvement, while the choral singing is of the highest order. Add the beautiful solo performances and it's impossible to recommend this highly enough.
A wonderful performance, and listening to it... has been a most moving experience. The soloists are admirable... The choir is fine in blend, precisions and enunciation; the boys' choir too, ideal in its embodiment of unsanctimonious sanctity. For the chamber ensemble and full orchestra, only admiration... Above all, we must honour their conductor, whose mature guidance is everywhere in evidence.
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Works DetailsBritten, Benjamin : War Requiem, Op. 66
- Performers: Annette Dasch (Soprano); James Taylor (Tenor); Christian Gerhaher (Baritone)
- Conductor: Robin Engelen
- Ensemble: Festivalensemble Stuttgart
- Running Time: 81 min. 54 sec.
- Period Time: Modern
- Form: Choral
- Written: 1961