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 on 30 May 1962, the 'War Requiem' was commissioned for the re-dedication of Coventry Cathedral, which was destroyed by bombing raids during the Second World War. Using the Latin mass of the dead, interspersed with texts by war poet Wilfred Owen, Britten, a pacifist and conscientious objector, created a work that both mourned the dead and pleaded the futility of war. The 'War Requiem' was to become one of the defining choral works of the 20th Century. Gianandrea Noseda was the first foreign Principal Guest Conductor of the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg and over the past decade his reputation in the opera house and concert hall has blossomed. He regularly conducts the LSO, as well as many of the world s other great orchestras, and is Music Director of the Teatro Regio in Turin. Ian Bostridge, Simon Keenlyside and Sabina Cvilak perform regularly in the world s leading opera houses and are renowned for their performances in Britten s music. The LSO and LSC have both enjoyed long relationships with the composer and appeared on the first recording of the 'War Requiem', conducted by Britten himself.
Celebrating its half century on May 30, Britten s great antiwar oratorio is arguably the only modern classic of its kind to have found the widest audience and increasing critical acclaim. This live recording, from the Barbican Hall last October, was to have been conducted by the LSO s president , Colin Davis, but the demands of the work proved a deterrent to the now 84-year-old conductor. (At the first performance, in Coventry Cathedral, Britten baulked at tackling the whole work himself, opting for the lesser challenge of conducting the chamber ensemble that accompanies the tenor and baritone settings of Wilfred Owen s searing war poems.) Noseda proves a more than worthy substitute, easily encompassing the dramatic scale of the work with its operatic Latin choruses the liturgical text led by a hieratic high priestess soprano. Although LSO forces did not perform at the world premiere, Britten chose them for his iconic recording with the three soloists, Galina Vishnevskaya, Peter Pears and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, for whom he tailor-made their parts. The Slovenian soprano Sabina Cvilak has a bright, silvery penetrating timbre. Ian Bostridge s tenor is as individual and idiosyncractic as Pears s in its own way. Simon Keenlyside, too, is magnificent, while the two choirs relish their grateful, inspiring music. --Hugh Canning, CLASSICAL CD OF THE WEEK, Sunday Times, 15 April 2012
CD of the Week Noseda proves to be more than a worthy substitute [for Sir Colin Davis], easily encompassing the dramatic scale of the work ... Ian Bostridge s tenor is as individual and idiosyncratic as Pears s --Sunday Times (UK)
Noseda offers an account rich in drama and is excellent at knitting together the Latin sections to commentary on war, forging a sense of momentum and cohesion ... Noseda paces the music perfectly, drawing playing and singing of great beauty from his forces ... this performance is incredibly moving and as fine a modern account as one could wish for ... no other orchestra can boast such a pedigree in this work on disc --International Record Review (UK)