Britten: War Requiem (2023 Remastered Version) London Symphony Orchestra & Benjamin Britten

Album info



Label: Decca Music Group Ltd.

Genre: Classical

Subgenre: Vocal

Artist: London Symphony Orchestra & Benjamin Britten

Composer: Benjamin Britten (1913-1976)

Album including Album cover

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  • Benjamin Britten (1913 - 1976): War Requiem, Op. 66:
  • 1Britten: War Requiem, Op. 66: I. Requiem aeternam: a. Requiem aeternam05:54
  • 2Britten: War Requiem, Op. 66: I. Requiem aeternam: b. What Passing Bells for These who die as Cattle?03:39
  • 3Britten: War Requiem, Op. 66: II. Dies irae: a. Dies irae03:38
  • 4Britten: War Requiem, Op. 66: II. Dies irae: b. Bugles Sang, Saddening the Evening Air02:34
  • 5Britten: War Requiem, Op. 66: II. Dies irae: c. Liber Scriptus02:56
  • 6Britten: War Requiem, Op. 66: II. Dies irae: d. Out there, We've Walked quite Friendly up to Death01:56
  • 7Britten: War Requiem, Op. 66: II. Dies irae: e. Recordare Jesu pie04:49
  • 8Britten: War Requiem, Op. 66: II. Dies irae: f. Be Slowly Lifted Up01:51
  • 9Britten: War Requiem, Op. 66: II. Dies irae: g. Dies irae01:13
  • 10Britten: War Requiem, Op. 66: II. Dies irae: h. Lacrimosa dies illa01:54
  • 11Britten: War Requiem, Op. 66: II. Dies irae: i. Move Him into the Sun04:51
  • 12Britten: War Requiem, Op. 66: III. Offertorium: a. Domine Jesu Christe03:32
  • 13Britten: War Requiem, Op. 66: III. Offertorium: b. So Abram Rose, and Clave the Wood06:10
  • 14Britten: War Requiem, Op. 66: IV. Sanctus: a. Sanctus06:01
  • 15Britten: War Requiem, Op. 66: IV. Sanctus: b. After the Blast of Lightning from the East03:49
  • 16Britten: War Requiem, Op. 66: V. Agnus Dei: One ever Hangs Where Shelled Roads Part03:39
  • 17Britten: War Requiem, Op. 66: VI. Libera me: a. Libera me, Domine07:37
  • 18Britten: War Requiem, Op. 66: VI. Libera me: b. It Seemed that out of Battle I Escaped09:35
  • 19Britten: War Requiem, Op. 66: VI. Libera me: c. Let Us Sleep Now...In Paradisum05:36
  • 20Britten: War Requiem, Op. 66: Requiem aeternam (Rehearsal)07:20
  • 21Britten: War Requiem, Op. 66: Dies irae (Rehearsal)09:46
  • 22Britten: War Requiem, Op. 66: Dies irae (Discussion in Control Room)02:05
  • 23Britten: War Requiem, Op. 66: Dies irae (Rehearsal of End of Movement)05:15
  • 24Britten: War Requiem, Op. 66: Offertorium (Rehearsal)08:24
  • 25Britten: War Requiem, Op. 66: Sanctus (Rehearsal)06:15
  • 26Britten: War Requiem, Op. 66: Sanctus (Discussion in Control Room)00:19
  • 27Britten: War Requiem, Op. 66: Agnus Dei (Discussion in Control Room)01:08
  • 28Britten: War Requiem, Op. 66: Libera me (Discussion in Control Room)01:11
  • 29Britten: War Requiem, Op. 66: Libera me (Rehearsal)05:20
  • 30Britten: War Requiem, Op. 66: Libera me (Rehearsal of Closing Page)02:40
  • 31Closing Speech00:39
  • Total Runtime02:11:36

Info for Britten: War Requiem (2023 Remastered Version)

Britten's War Requiem (1963) is the first recording of Benjamin Britten's War Requiem. It featured Galina Vishnevskaya, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Peter Pears with the London Symphony Orchestra, the Melos Ensemble, The Bach Choir and the Highgate School Choir, and was conducted by Britten himself. The recording took place in the Kingsway Hall in London and was produced by John Culshaw for Decca. Within five months of its release in May 1963 it sold 200,000 copies, an unheard-of number for a piece of contemporary classical music at that time.

November 1940, in an act of wartime aggression, Coventry Cathedral was raised to the ground and the city decimated. In 1962 attention turned again to war-torn Coventry where in the city's newly built cathedral, Britten’s War Requiem received its symbolic world premiere, commissioned for the its reconsecration. In his deeply moving score, Britten set the entire text of the Latin Requiem Mass and interpolated nine of Wilfred Owen’s harrowing poems from the trenches. Britten organised the performers into three distinct but overlapping groups: full orchestra, chorus and soprano soloist for the Latin texts; a chamber ensemble with tenor and baritone soloists for Owen’s verses; and a distant boys’ choir; His choices for the three soloists were laden with deep meaning: the British tenor Peter Pears; the German baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau; and the Russian soprano Galina Vishnevskaya (who was ultimately barred by the Soviet regime from traveling to England for the premiere, and was replaced at less than two weeks’ notice by Heather Harper) to represent reconciliation between the three front-line casualties of 20th-century European conflict. Notwithstanding a few bumps, the impact of the performance spread immediately and critical reaction created momentum for a commercial recording.

Recorded between January 3 and 10, 1963, in London’s Kingsway Hall by Decca’s ‘dream team’ of producer John Culshaw and engineer Kenneth Wilkinson, Britten’s ideals were achieved when the provincial forces in Coventry were replaced by the London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, the Bach Choir (trained by David Willcocks), and the boys of Highgate School. The Melos Ensemble returned, and one year after the premiere, the triumvirate of soloists, Britten had written The War Requiem for were united, with Britten conducting the performance.

Unbeknownst to the composer, the soloists and the orchestra, Culshaw kept the microphones open and the tapes running in both the hall and the control room during rehearsals. On the occasion of Britten’s fiftieth birthday, he was given a presentation LP of rehearsal excerpts with its own label and catalogue number, BB50. Undoubtedly offered with the best of intentions, the gift was received with less than the positive response intended, owing to Britten’s deep sense of privacy and his particular sensitivities around this work especially. It wasn’t until fifty years later, it was deemed reason to put on one side Britten’s prohibition and to assess the tape as a contribution to our knowledge of him as a performer and interpreter of his own music and to our understanding of the War Requiem itself. On the one hand, it affords a glimpse into how Britten worked (as composer/conductor), and on the other, perhaps of more import, is how fundamental to the original concept and interpretation of the work was the intent to disturb, discomfort, confront and shock its audiences out of a passive acceptance of the annihilation of war. The rehearsals are presented here on LP for the first time since the sole pressing gifted by Decca to Britten on his 50th birthday in November 1963.

"Britten was writing personally for three muses who had all shared the wartime experience...His incandescent commitment to pacificism and horror at the failure of humanism blazes forth...As you can hear in the revealing out-takes from the rehearsals on this recording, Britten wanted real terror, real hysteria from the singers, and he got it." (BBC Music Magazine)

"among the most magnetic performances of British music ever put on record" (Gramophone Magazine)

"Britten conducts with unique authority and all the performers respond with evident and complete commitment. The playing of the LSO is magnificently incisive...even if you already have this recording of War Requiem in its original format I’d urge you to acquire this release also simply for the sake of these rehearsal sequences...this Britten recording has an irreplaceable page in the annals of this wonderful and profoundly moving work." (MusicWeb International)

"The merits of this ground-breaking performance is that it so arrestingly conveys Britten's intentions. We're lucky to have not only Britten's irreplaceable reading refurbished, but also his commentary suggested by the rehearsal sequences." (Penguin Guide)

Galina Vishnevskaya, soprano
Peter Pears, tenor
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, baritone
The Bach Choir & London Symphony Chorus
David Willcocks, Chorus master
Highgate School Choir
Edward Chapman, director
Simon Preston, organ
Melos Ensemble
London Symphony Orchestra
Benjamin Britten, conductor

Digitally remastered

Please Note: we do not offer the 192 kHz version of this album, because there is no considerable or audible difference to the 96 kHz version!

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