John N. Taylor | Palm Desert, CA, USA | 11/01/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I grew up with the Britten version of this magnificent work - which has to be one of the greatest of the 20th Century.
I was not aware of Guilini's interest until I read the insert of the recording. With him in control of the main orchestra, soprano and chorus snd Britten,himself, in control of the chamber orchestra snd tenor/baritone soloists - it is a overwhelming combination!
Better than the Composer's original?? I actually think so - especially as it is a live recording, and all the tension that that generates. It is difficult to escape the excitement generated by the excellent soloists. May be the Soprano and Baritone are not quite as good - but the ensemble and the overall feel is inescapable. As for Peter Pears - - I think he surpasses his performance in the original recording.
If I only had to have one recording of this 20th Century Masterpiece - it would be this one.
Great performance but listen before buying
Jason Holtzapple | Phoenix, AZ USA | 11/15/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is a wonderful performance, but the audience noise does get distracting several times. If this might bother you, sample the recording before buying it. It's annoying enough for me to knock off one star."
Britten: War Requiem
isaiah | 06/04/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's a long time since I listened to this work. I was struck, especially in the "Libera me" just how graphic is its account of war. Unlike Verdi, here we have a descrtiption of, literally, the last day for those involved in battle. The music makes it clear, at least for me, that we are on the battlefield - WW1, D-Day( I listened on 4th June) or Iraq. The fear is the fear of death, not some religious meditation on the afterlife; it's the end of life. I think Giulini's performance brings this out vividly. Who cares about less than perfect recording? This performance challenges the intellect."
Giulini conducts a very moving version of a great choral wor
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 06/14/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Giulini made a minor impression on records with his Britten, but this live War Requiem from Albert Hall in 1969 stands as his most heartfelt tribute to the great English composer. Britten was overwhelmed by the enormous international acclaim his work received in 1962. Illustrious conductors quickly took over various European premieres -- Colin Davis in Berlin, Haitink in Amsterdam, Kertessz in Vienna. (How odd in retrospect that Bernstein, who premiered Peter Grimes at Tanglewood, ignored the music.) Giulini came late, but this is a warm, glowing reading of great impact.
The War Requiem has a spatial component, with a second instrumental ensemble, boys' choir, and soloist off at a distance from the main forces. Here Britten serves as second conductor for the smaller body, as he did at the work's premiere in Coventry to mark the rebuilding of the cathedral that had bee destroyed by German bombing in the war (he's the main conductor on the famous Decca recording, which occurred somewhat later in 1962).
A host of distinguished soloists appears on all the various War Requiem recordings. Here we have the incomparable Peter Pears repeating the role written for him and singing even more intensely. He also happens to be in good voice. His baritone partner, Hans Wilbirnk, is unknown to me, as is the off=stage soprano, Stefania Voytowiecz. He is quite good, she is rather shrill and unsteady. But clearly Giulini wanted to have an international cast, as Britten did when he wrote for a British, German, and Russian singer to exemplify the bringing together of former enemies.
One can confidently add this live account to the outstanding ones from Britten (Decca) and Hickox (Chandos). In deed, I don't know a bad recording of this great work. Giulini's is perhaps the most moving, however. The chorus is fine; the BBC engineers did a good job capturing the space in Albert Hall without getting lost in acoustic soup; and only the somewhat distant miking of the vocal soloists poses a slight problem in making out Wilfred Owen's poetry. T offset the less than perfect sound, BBC Legends put the work on a single CD, which isn't true of the Decca and Chandos versions."