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Britten: War Requiem Op. 66 [Import]

Benjamin Britten , City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra , Heather Harper , Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau , Peter Pears Audio CD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
Price: £14.52 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Britten: War Requiem Op. 66 + Britten: The Canticles
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Product details

  • Performer: Heather Harper, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Peter Pears
  • Orchestra: City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
  • Conductor: Benjamin Britten
  • Audio CD (17 Dec 2013)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Testament
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 122,183 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Product Description

Peter Pears, ténor - Heather Harper, soprano - Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, baryton - City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra - Melos Ensemble - Benjamin Britten & Meredith Davies, direction

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
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I originally downloaded this performance from iTunes a couple of months ago and the sound is, frankly, filthy; had I known a Testament re-mastering was on the way I would have held off but ... For that reason, I didn't just jump in and order this since the BBC broadcast is the only original available and the iTunes version more or less renders it unlistenable, however, I had the opportunity of hearing a friends copy last evening and the difference is remarkable..

Testament have done an amazing job, yes, it's very dry mono sound but the voices are faithfully captured and they have done a great job with the sound in general & particularly in the 'silences' where the iTunes download is a mass of loud hiss. The tubular bells at the very opening still sound as though they the are sited right beside the radio mike and are very loud. Pears & Dieskau will probably never be bettered and this recording is a real tribute to Heather Harper who really sounds 'inside' the soprano part; a real achievement considering the short time she had to prepare for the premiere.

This is, then, a basic but reasonable sound record of a remarkable and historic occasion and essential for all Britten collectors.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Britten War Requiem 21 Jan 2014
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Chosen for historical interest rather than quality of performance and recording.. Choral part not as good as some performances I have heard. Owen poems - amazing performances.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Essential Listening 15 Jan 2014
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Having performed and listened to the War Requiem,this fills an essential gap in my understanding of this composer's life and work.
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An historic (if flawed) musical event 26 Dec 2013
By Peter Bay - Published on Amazon.com
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Testament deserves much praise for allowing us to hear this world premiere performance of a 20th century masterpiece, all on one nearly 81 minute disc. The mono BBC tape used for this issue has a good deal of hiss, and in the Libera Me the sound becomes a little more congested than in the previous five movements. Paul Kildea in his excellent liner notes lays out all the problems with the performance (some missed entrances, a slightly taxed City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, and a Conventry Festival Chorus not up to Britten's standards). However, the three soloists (Peter Pears, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, and Heather Harper who subbed for Galina Vishnevskaya on ten days notice) are remarkable and theirs are among the finest performances recorded.

For those who are familiar with the War Requiem, this release acts as an important appendix to the legendary Decca release under the composer's direction. The Special Edition of that version contains portions of the rehearsal and recording sessions which allow us to hear from Britten directly how the music should be phrased, sung, and played. Of course Britten had hand picked choruses, soloists (this time with Vishnevskaya), and the London Symphony Orchestra at his disposal. In the Testament release, the main orchestra is led by Meredith Davies, and the chamber orchestra (Melos Ensemble) is led by the composer.

Even with reservations, the importance of the event captured makes this release self-recommending.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gift to the Future 22 July 2014
By Scott L. Foglesong - Published on Amazon.com
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I have always wondered what it would have been like to be in the audience at the Hanover Square Rooms in 1791 and hear Haydn and Salomon present the first performances of his first set of "London" symphonies, or to hear the premiere of the Brahms German Requiem, or to have been there in the Theâtre des Champs-Elysées on the night when the Rite of Spring was greeted with controversy.

Well, I can't. But at least I could have tuned in for the world premiere of the War Requiem, and thanks to this release, I can hear it whenever I want. To be sure, this is hardly the one-definitive-performance-to-rule-them-all. (I'm willing to bet none of the above I mentioned weren't all that definitive, either.) But it's the work's maiden voyage, and as such is a historical treasure, AM-radio sonics and sloppy playing notwithstanding. That's especially poignant given that we have the stellar studio recording on Decca, made not long after. We *know* how Britten wanted the Requiem performed: no mysteries about performance practice, size of performing forces, tempi, all that.

In short, recordings like this dwell apart from their studio or later brethren. They're historical documents as much as performances, and as such, they are a gift to the future.
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