BRITTEN War Requiem / 2013 HD Remaster 4785433

This recording is one of the greatest achievements of the classical recording world . . . Now in this new hi-res remastering package it will have a new life with collectors around the world.

. . . [none] is as authoritative, nor as electrifying, nor as creative in the use of stereo and space as Britten's own 1963 recording (Decca) . . . re-released in a special edition that includes a fresh, spacious-sounding transfer on a Blu-ray audio disc and a rehearsal disc along with the regular CD. It set a daunting example for the recordings that came afterward, particularly for sopranos who try to channel Galina Vishnevskaya's shrill fervor, or tenors who emulate Peter Pears' diction. The rehearsal disc is invaluable not only for its insights straight from the composer's mouth, but also for proof that Britten knew how to rehearse.

Now, in the centenary of Britten's birth, numerous new recordings by leading soloists and conductors are appearing . . . I have little doubt that they will all be excellent, but I am even more certain that none of them will match the searing intensity of the premiere recording of the "War Requiem" released by Decca in 1963, conducted by the composer with an ideal cast of singers, produced by John Culshaw, and engineered by Kenneth Wilkinson . . . Culshaw was the perfect choice to provide Britten's complex spatial effects, and Wilkinson could certainly get the most out of Kingsway Hall's acoustics. All of this turned out to be true on the original LP pressings . . . The opening of the Blu-ray Audio disc transports you into another world that must be heard to be believed. The fine instrumental and choral detail is mind boggling, and this information is presented with no significant compromise of Britten's spatial effects . . . Britten's often-chilly instrumental effects. . . are presented exactly as written. This three-disc album retains the striking black and white cover of the original LP and the fascinating rehearsal extracts revealing the composer at work . . . [in conclusion] if you can play Blu-ray audio through your sound system, you owe it to yourself to experience Britten's masterpiece as recorded by Culshaw and Wilkinson in Kingsway Hall.

The latest remastering is phenomenal in either form for a 50-year-old recording . . . Present-day buyers of the work can choose from some fine recordings among the 28 commercial issues that have been offered. Britten's own version in its latest remastering is still indispensable.

No single work captured Britain's post-war cultural imagination more grippingly than the "War Requiem" . . . It is an achievement of transcendent reach . . . His 1963 recording with the searing sensitivity of his tenor Peter Pears has never been surpassed.

L'acuité linguistique et l'articulation naturelle des deux chanteurs requis, Dietrich Fischer Dieskau et le compagnon de Britten, l'incontournable Peter Pears apportent cet éclairage poétique en réussissant la projection idéal du texte ; à l'évocation des sacrifices commis au nom d'une barbarie jamais éteinte ; dans l'apologie suprême d'une fraternité qui relie chaque combattant à son ennemi déclaré . . . au-delà des mots, les images et les formules imprécatoires et poétiques renouent avec cette méditation bouleversante qui remonte aux oratorios de Haendel. La richesse du texte en gagne une vérité qui touche directement et souligne ce génie universel avec lequel Britten aborde le thème de la guerre et des frères sacrifiés au nom d'une aberration vivace. La voix de la soprano Galina Vishnevskaya apporte elle aussi ce tremblement humain qui palpite et vibre au diapason d'une humanité promise à la grâce finale, libérée de cette malédiction guerrière . . . Les trois choeurs complémentaires ajoutent à la prière d'une humanité en quête de fraternité. La direction de l'auteur d'une fragilité émotionnelle manifeste . . . ajoute à la totale réussite de cette lecture qui prend valeur d'autographe. On savait Britten grand chef (son Faust de Schumann par exemple, également chez Decca en témoigne), son "War Requiem" dévoile aussi quel magnifique interprète de lui-même, il a su être.