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Britten: War Requiem
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
This is a very nice package and while it has the classic look of the original and the previous CD set, it now contains a single Blu Ray disc which has all the music in what they call "ultra-high-quality 96kHz 24-bit audio", as well as 2 CDs,

The idea was of course, to create a definitive version/transfer for the 50th anniversary of the piece and they chose to work in the 96kHz 24 bit domain - this means a higher resolution than normal CD and fits well now, with "Pure Audio" on Blu Ray. So, not many people bought SACD players, but there are millions of Blu Ray players out there now, bought primarily for home cinema. A lot of these have decent sound systems built in and so there is potential for more people to hear the original version of this wonderful work in the highest definition possible.

Listening on Blu Ray, the sound is incredibly clear - no background noise and no distortion - even in the loudest climaxes of massed brass and percussion in the Dies Irae. I think there is a discernible improvement over CD, although it's not as dramatic as you might expect from the build-up given, in large parts of the work. The loud Tuttis benefit the most and this is still a 1960s recording and doesn't have the space and sophisticated surround picture of recent recordings like Britten: War Requiem (Erin Wall/ Mark Padmore/ Hanno Muller-Brachmann) (Arthaus: 108070) [Blu-ray] [2012]

However, we can't really complain about having the composer and his preferred performers, presented in the highest possible resolution/sound quality. This has to be the benchmark against which all other versions are compared and gives us an inisght into what Britten intended. To further establish these credentials, the second CD in the package has rehearsal tapes where you can hear Britten himself talking to the performers and getting his points across. There is also a nice booklet included, which has many photos from the sessions and overall, you really get a strong impression of what was going on - especially how serious everybody was, about creating a strong anti-war message.

This is certainly a worthy commemoration of a historic recording and the addition of Blu Ray Pure Audio, makes this a very desirable purchase for anybody who already has a home cinema system with decent sound quality.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 6 November 2013
Firstly let me thank The Wolf for his review, and say that I agree with it wholeheartedly. I would like to add a proviso, though, and that is to suggest that it is necessary to make some small allowance for the age of the original recording. I well remember buying the LP boxed set and being delighted by Decca's sound, at the forefront of fidelity at the time. This new version includes a Blu-ray audio transfer that is, at least in theory, an improvement over standard CD quality, and tempted me to purchase the newest incarnation of a historic (and arguably unmatched) performance. The Blu-ray disc is in stereo only, and it took careful listening on my part to convince myself that I could hear any improvement over the CDs. As with other older recordings that I have purchased, re-mastered into the best of today's formats, I was just a little disappointed. In this case I felt that treble was a bit restricted and clarity could have been better.
There are those like myself who will always want this recording on their shelves, and rightly so. As for me, the music is the most important aspect, and I find that I prefer to listen to (and watch) Andris Nelsons conducting a 50th anniversary performance from Coventry cathedral, with excellent pictures and sound (see the reviews on Amazon UK, to which I wish to add little except to add the one small critical comment that the children's choir could have been placed in the rear speakers to match their position on camera, behind the audience). Value is always in the eye of the beholder, but I feel this issue offers more for the outlay than the remastered Decca.
I beg all who wish to own this great recording, conducted by the composer, not to hesitate. However, if you are simply looking for a fine AV recording of the marvellous War Requiem with no preconceptions, give Nelsons' Blu-ray a try.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
In this, Benjamin Britten's centenary year, there could be no greater
tribute than this marvelously embellished reissue of The War Requiem.
The work is by turns probably the most tortured and compassionate
musical response conceivable by an artist to the brutal realities of war.

Composed between 1961 and 1962, when it received its first performance,
it was subsequently recorded and released by Decca the following year with
Britten at the helm. In this three disc edition, other than being able to
re-experience the work with such scintillatingly dynamic sound quality, it
is both enlightening and strangely moving to hear the composer organising
his forces with such enormous clarity of vision and good humour in rehearsals.
The sense of purpose and the huge importance of the occasion is palpable.

Based on liturgical texts from the Latin mass for the dead and the poems
of Wilfred Owen, who perished at the tender age of 25 in the First World War,
the Requiem's powerful narrative is set to music of eviscerating power and
pathos for orchestra, chorus and soprano, tenor and baritone soloists.

The cataclysmic fury of the 'Dies Irae' (the brass delivering a veritable
apocalyptic conflagration!)!); the hair-raising focus and devastating
projection of Galina Vishnevskaya's thrilling account of the 'Liber
Scriptus Proferetur'; Peter Pear's achingly fragile and poignant performance
of the sublime 'One Ever Hangs Where Shelled Roads Part' and the haunting
conclusion of 'Let Us Sleep Now', tenderly achieved by the whole ensemble,
have never sounded better; the final hollow tolling bell a bitter reminder
of the barely imaginable loss and waste of life of two World Wars.

Essential.
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on 6 November 2014
EXCELLENT RECORDING, DESPATCHED PROMPTLY.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 29 November 2013
Great recording, and really helped me to learn the piece, as I was performing this with my choir. V interesting have Britten's taped rehearsal too.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 2 January 2014
I assume you'll delete this on the basis of my title but I'm slowly starting to understand how great Benjamin Britten was. I knew the pops, young people's guide and all and had worked my way through Grimes on CD but then I went to a live performance of the War Requiem. I was rendered speachless.

We must recognise one of our (ie British) great composers.
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