Cvilak/Bostridge/Noseda/Keenlyside/LSO and Chorus/Choir of Eltham College (LSO Live, 2CDs)
Released to mark the 50th anniversary of the War Requiem's premiere, this was recorded during a series of Barbican concerts last autumn. The conductor is Gianandrea Noseda, whose understanding of the relationship between ritual devotion and political anger in Britten's great pacifist statement is marvellously acute, and who also brings a strong sense of Italianate lyricism to bear on the score, reminding us of Britten's conscious debt to Verdi's Requiem. The choral singing is fervent and intense, the playing fierce and sensitive by turns. Sabina Cvilak is the thrilling, hieratic soprano, though her male counterparts aren't quite as successful. Ian Bostridge sounds less mannered on disc than he did in the hall, though you're very aware of moments of strain. The baritone solos lie awkwardly low for Simon Keenlyside, robbing him of vocal heft at points when he really needs it.
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