Customer Reviews


14 Reviews
5 star:
 (14)
4 star:    (0)
3 star:    (0)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 
‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Moving requiem, 5 Oct 2012
By 
Charles Eccles (Bedfordshire, England) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Any recording of the War Requiem faces a tough comparison with the iconic original recording conducted by Britten himself. This has so much become THE performance that there are some who will find it hard to replace it in their affections with a more recent reading. For my part, I found this new disc, recorded on the 50th anniversary of the original performance in Coventry Cathedral, both thrilling and intensely moving. In truth, I prefer Erin Wall (soprano) and Mark Padmore (tenor) to their counterparts Galina Vishnevskaya and Peter Pears on the original recording. Diction and singing styles have changed in the last 50 years and I now find the original singers too "plummy" and not as moving as the current soloists. Andris Nelsons and the orchestra(s) play the piece beautifully, and the main choir are simply magical, especially in quiet passages. The girls' choir, placed at the opposite end of the cathedral, are equally moving.

The picture quality is as good as it gets, and the shots of the old and new cathedral during the performance add to the drama and profundity of the piece. The original recording was not made in the cathedral itself as church acoustics are seldom ideal. In this case there are no acoustical problems and both soloists, choirs and orchestra are all caught in crystal clear thrilling sound, free of any distortion. This should come as no surprise because the credits show that the recording was produced by Paul Smaczny and his team from Accentus, who have won Gramophone's Best DVD of the Year Award for the last two years' running - in fact, the sole winners of this award to date. I would not be surprised if the present disc was a contender for next year's award

One technical point: the main menu gives only the choices of playing the concert or watching trailers. The default mode is PCM stereo with no subtitles. To change the audio setting and get subtitles you have to pull up the pop-up menu on your remote.

So, I recommend that you watch this performance, and be prepared to be thrilled - and moved.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A War Requiem for Our Time., 11 Jan 2013
By 
Bruce "from Brighton" (UK - England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Of course it's difficult to look any further than Britten's own recording with the soloists that he chose for this piece and as he was a good conductor, we have to assume he got the kind of performance he wanted.

However, technology moves on and this piece is ideally suited to surround sound, due to the nature of the forces used and its Cathedral setting. The War Requiem was commissioned to mark the re-building of Coventry Cathedral after WWII and this performance celebrates the 50th anniversary of that event. While Britten made his recording in a studio, due to the technical difficulties of a live recording - now we have the technology to do justice to the Cathedral acoustic of the actual space for which this was written.

Blu Ray now allows us to see this historic event in high definition - so we can follow the various soloists, chamber group and see that the youth choir is behind us. But it also allows us to hear in surround sound, exactly how Britten envisaged this piece. He set it up with the male soloists close in the foreground, speaking to us directly, relating "human" experiences of war through the poetry of Wilfrid Owen. They are surrounded by a small chamber group, which surround sound allows us to identify clearly - set up almost like a Jazz ensemble, again more human in dimensions.

Behind this group we have the much larger forces of the full orchestra and huge choir, who sing the Latin mass, which is more removed from us and gives the perspective of organised religion, with the soprano soloist in the centre of this group. Finally we have the "removed" youth choir, who come from all around us in surround sound and echo from the top of the Cathedral acoustic, sounding like ethereal angels, the "voice of Heaven".

All these "spatial" details are evident in the Dolby Digital surround sound image - which makes this a genuine improvement. The sound is stunning - full bass and every detail of the large cathedral acoustic is captured. Balance is excellent and although this is a live recording, the audience never intrudes - the long silence held at the end of the piece is respected perfectly. Despite the large forces used, there is no distortion and no harshness to the large choir sound (as there is in the recent Dudamel Mahler 8th).

All in all, this is as close to a perfect performance as you could wish and it has to be the top recommendation for a surround sound version of the War Requiem. Given the historic nature of this celebration, it is a fitting tribute.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A War Requiem to treasure, 3 Dec 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Britten: War Requiem (Erin Wall/ Mark Padmore/ Hanno Muller-Brachmann) (Arthaus: 101659) [DVD] [2012] (DVD)
I attended the first performance of this work and had friends in the choir. Not a good performance, but a wonderful memory. Subsequently I have heard many renderings and own the recording conducted by Britten. Andris Nelsons and the CBSO have given us another memorable event to treasure, with the setting enhancing rather than detracting from the music.
Two soloists are replacements - I had been looking forward to hearing Thomas Quasthoff in the bass role - but both surpassed my expectations. The cathedral acoustic is notoriously tricky and the placing of choir and orchestra facing the altar seems to work well. Nelsons achieved a long and moving silence at the end of the work which is seldom possible. As we come to Britten's centenary next year, this recording would come near the top of my list to recommend to fans of his music - certainly those unsure of their views should give it a try.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An extraordinary concert, 18 Dec 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is an extraordinarily moving video showing the 50th Anniversary celbratory concert at Coventry Cathedral of the War Requiem. Britten wrote the pirce for the opening of the cathedral. To hear this moving piece in such as setting is wonderful - the new cathedral with the ruins of the old visible behind the orchestra and chorus is particularly poignant. The CBSO and CBSO choruses (adult and youth) led by Nelsons are breathtakingly good, and the soloists do real justice to the words and music. This is a must for any Britten fan.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deeply moving, 1 Dec 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Britten: War Requiem (Erin Wall/ Mark Padmore/ Hanno Muller-Brachmann) (Arthaus: 101659) [DVD] [2012] (DVD)
Caught some of the performance on The Space, rather disgracefully the BBC only had it on Radio 3 although it went out on TV across Europe, The silence at the end tells all. The soloists could not be better and I write as someone who went through the indescribable experience of the first performance half a century ago when it overcame the hazards of the dreadful acoustic affecting most of the audiencce, the recorded sound in this new performance has non of the problems and Andris Nelsons demonstrates yet again his control and dedicated musicianxhip. I do not ever expect to hear a better baritone his intellegence and emotional control is superlative, his english is even better than Fischer-Dieskau
Stanley Sellers
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautifully shot and recorded performance., 20 Nov 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is a wonderful recording in my opinion. There are some superb camera shots and an exceptional performance of this powerful and moving work by Andris Nelsons and all involved.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a keeper, 16 Oct 2012
By 
Gerhard P. Knapp "gpk" (Salt Lake City, UT, United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Benjamin Britten's War Requiem, one of the twentieth century's greatest choral works, was first performed in May 1962 upon the consecration of Coventry's St. Michael's Cathedral, erected next to the ruins of the medieval Cathedral destroyed in a German air raid in November 1940. Following the composer's own recording with the LSO (1963), a number of fine modern readings have been available on CD for quite some time, including Simon Rattle's performance with the CBSO (1983) and Richard Hickox' LSO production (1991). A DVD release was long overdue. Arthaus documents - in excellent audio and brilliant blu-ray HD video - the 50th anniversary performance of the work, recorded in Coventry Cathedral on 30 May 2012. Soloists Erin Wall, Mark Padmore and Hanno Müller-Brachmann join the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Chorus and Youth Chorus under the direction of the eminently talented young Latvian conductor Andris Nelsons. The backdrop of gaunt ruins and the severe setting eloquently underline the Requiem's passionate plea against warfare and for peace on earth - and perhaps the fact that humanity is still anything but at peace today.

The War Requiem is constructed in two huge concentric circles. Embedded in the Latin text of the liturgy for the dead are nine poems by Wilfred Owen (1893-1918), British soldier and poet, who was killed shortly before the end of World War I. The poems vividly portray the horrors of war and are sung by the tenor and baritone soloists (accompanied by a smaller chamber group), while the soprano soloist, either alone or with the choir, intones parts of the liturgy. The youth chorus, strategically placed at the Cathedral's opposite end, is heard only three times: in relatively tranquil and peaceful parts. Britten's score is moderately "modern", never atonal, characterized by sharp rhythmic accents, fluctuating harmonies, brief melodic passages and ever-present immense energy. Brass and percussion are often prominent in their portrayal of conflict, brutality and grief. From the initial disquieting chords of the "Requiem aeternam" through the cataclysmic "Dies irae", the militant "Offertorium", the enigmatic "Sanctus" and "Benedictus" to the final "Libera me" with the quietly consoling "In paradisum deducant", this is an incredibly disturbing and equally moving work. Highly recommended to those not quite familiar with it: the journey of repeated listening will be rewarding.

The soloists, choristers and, to a lesser extent, the orchestra musicians are quite challenged by this score and its great demands. In the present recording, all participants excel to the highest standards. The soloists, visibly involved in their parts, shine out consistently, as do the members of the choirs, and the CBSO plays like a world-class ensemble. Andris Nelsons - who frequently consults the score - does a superb job in conveying every detail and nuance as well as the Requiem's spirit as a monumental whole. The profound silence following the performance speaks for itself. This is a keeper.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extremely moving, 24 July 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Britten: War Requiem (Erin Wall/ Mark Padmore/ Hanno Muller-Brachmann) (Arthaus: 101659) [DVD] [2012] (DVD)
This live recording of the anniversary performance at Coventry Cathedral has an emotional and musical resonance which cannot be replicated in the concert hall. The power of Britten's work of reconciliation is fully relaised by the CBSO, choruses and soloists.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful 50th anniversary tribute to Britten's own tribute to 'the pity of war' as was his intent, 17 Oct 2012
By 
I. Giles (Argyll, Scotland) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This production, performance and recording of Benjamin Britten's War Requiem marks the 50th anniversary of the commissioning of the new Coventry Cathedral, built to replace the medieval cathedral destroyed during the bombing of Coventry during WW2. The first performance was also played by the Birmingham orchestra as on this recording and featured an English tenor, a German baritone and an English soprano as commemorated here too. The original Russian soprano was not allowed to perform by the Russian government of the time because of the perceived political nature of the work.

Britten made a particularly famous recording of the work within a few months with the LSO and with the intended original trio of soloists. This went on to achieve a quarter of a million sales, my copy being one of them. The work had been set as one of the works to be studied in detail as part of the music `A' level exam that I was engaged upon. I was so struck by the setting of Owen's poems that I then bought a volume of his complete poems that I still own.

Britten's own recording was such a landmark both as a performance and as a recording that, even now, it represents a major challenge to any new recording of the work. That this anniversary recording is so successful is a remarkable achievement. That it is also by no means inferior to that of Britten's is even more remarkable even though there are some major differences which must be mentioned and which affect the balance of the overall effect.

The two main changes relate to the much slower tempo of the Dies Irae in particular and to the Sanctus to a somewhat lesser degree. This may be the result of the venue with the large reverberation factor to consider or maybe just a difference in emphasis. As a result, whatever the reason, the two sections do not drive ahead dramatically as they do with Britten, but instead achieve an effect of weighty power instead. To my mind this is just as appropriate as the performance still manages to sustain tension, just a different sort.

The soloists are all excellent with Mark Padmore communicating the Owen poetry with complete commitment and with tenor singing of the highest quality. He has a rounder tonal characteristic to that of Peter Pears. Hanno Muller-Brachmann makes for a fine baritone soloist who also sings with fine tone and without the accent problem detectable in Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau's delivery in Britten's recording. Erin Wall equally has a much more rounded tone than Galina Vishnevskaya on Britten's recording where her strident tones were always somewhat controversial. The choir is excellent in all respects as is the CBSO Youth Chorus.

Apart from the two tempi variants as mentioned above, Andris Nelsons adopts an approach that differs from that of Britten by being rather less driven but just as dramatically effective. Coupled with the benefits of the warmer tonal characteristics of his soloists and the qualities of the far newer recording, the whole effect is rather easier on the ear and allows the listener/viewer to appreciate the message of the Requiem even more. This was certainly true of my wife who has now changed from being a `refuser' to a supporter entirely on the basis of this performance and recording. It seems to me that Nelsons has managed to catch the mood of today's audience and to provide a performance of the War Requiem that relates strongly to that. Perhaps this is less strident but more humane - a difference of historical period?

The recording is visually strikingly crisp with wonderful detail of objects such as tubular bells, through more general shots such as larger groups of singers to distant views such as the youth choir positioned at the rear of the cathedral in front of the famous tapestry. This is one of the best visual recordings I have ever seen and, for me, marks a new level of visual technology. The sound is of equal merit, effortlessly encompassing the dynamic tonal range of Britten's endlessly imaginative scoring. In my opinion this is a triumph of the recording art as at present. It is presented in DD 5.1 and stereo. The surround sound makes telling use of the rear positioning of the youth choir as well as greatly aiding general clarity and sonic spread.

This is a remarkable achievement by all concerned and is a wonderful 50th anniversary tribute to the new cathedral, to the composition itself and to `the pity of war' as Britten himself said. I am sure that it will communicate strongly on those terms.

In summary therefore I would suggest that this is a performance and recording exactly appropriate for the current times that we live in and, as such, fully deserves to be seriously considered as a strong contender for purchase.

............................................

Some dialogue from the comments section that may offer further help:

I thought that you might like to know that before I buy a recording I now look through all the reviews to see if you have posted one. Your assessments and opinions are invaluable. Thank you. (US review)

I particularly like your format of review. They give the prospective purchaser an idea of the style of the playing and relevant comparisons. They are succinct. Keep up the good work! (UK review)

I'm sure there are many other serious collectors, besides myself, who wait for your synopsis and opinion before spending their hard-earned money on new releases...
Thank you (UK review)

I'd also add to this. When you in particular review a particular CD, I pay pretty close attention. I would say the characteristics of your reviews I value the most are the detail and general sense of balance and fairness that comes across. That's a great help. Thanks for taking the time on your reviews. (US review)

............................................

A note to the anonymous negative voter:
The voting system is specifically only about reviews being 'helpful' or 'unhelpful'
Goodness only knows what you find to be `unhelpful' about this review.

A negative vote without reason is not helpful to anyone. It does not contribute in any useful way to discussion so no-one can learn from you.
If you have a different view or find the review 'unhelpful' then explain, giving your reasons, and share your views in the comment option as intended.

Significantly, I know of at least one good reviewer who has finally given up with anonymous negative votes such as has been experienced here and deleted all his reviews. The loss to the whole collecting community is his considerable knowledgeable advice and the gain is his own free time. He cannot be persuaded to return to writing reviews despite my repeated encouragement.

Anonymous negative votes without supporting reasons can have other negative results that you may not have thought of.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So moving!, 17 Nov 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought the LPs when they first came out, then the CDs, of the Britten performance. The original recording has been with me for so many years, and I was loath to hear any other, but this latest one on blu-ray ... It is magnificent and brought tears to my eyes! I say no more.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Only search this product's reviews