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2012 marque le cinquantième anniversaire de la création de ce Requiem de la Guerre de Britten, l'un des plus puissants manifestes pour la paix en musique. Sa première représentation eu lieu en 1962 dans une cathédrale de Coventry nouvellement consacrée après avoir été reconstruite le long des ruines de la précédente, sombre vestige de la période des bombardements sur la ville de Birmingham par l'aviation allemande. 50 ans plus tard, le chef d'oeuvre de Britten retrouve sa place dans le même édifice, interprété comme la première fois par l'Orchestre Symphonique de Birmingham placé sous la direction de Andris Nelsons.
"Some moments as realised by Nelsons were genuinely revelatory especially the almost mechanical oppressiveness he brought to the Dies Irae, and the extraordinary opening chorus of the final Libera Me, which moved remorselessly from slithering, rustling pianissimos to a cataclysmic climax."
[The War Requiem's ill-rehearsed premiere in a barely completed cathedral notoriously drove Britten to the brink of breakdown… Clearly something better was needed for the 50th anniversary performance, also in Coventry Cathedral, and happily it received this at the hands of the CBSO and its inspiring conductor Andris Nelsons. The three soloists are not, perhaps, quite as eminent as the originals, but all are excellent… The CBSO choruses, far excelling the original's scratch choirs, also seem to benefit from better placement within the cathedral… This never drags, despite so much inner darkness, and the camera enhances the performance, in showing the airy cathedral itself and the faces of the youth chorus, and indeed Nelsons's own, intent and uplifted. 5*/5* --Michael Scott Rohan, BBC Music Magazine
What's most striking here is Andris Nelson's grip at both ends of the forest-trees spectrum. On one hand, the music's details are as clearly articulated as on any performance I have heard… Yet even with his concern for detail, there's no sacrifice of the music's large-scale architecture…. Nelsons is supported by expert soloists… Best of all, though is Mark Padmore… this is as richly characterised a reading of the score I've heard since Peter Pears's own… The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra … performs ideally here, offering precision and atmosphere in equal measure… The instrumental soloists in the small ensemble are enviably nimble and expressive. The main chorus is just as impressive… Fine singing as well from the children's chorus. --- IRR OUTSTANDING --Peter J. Rabinowitz, International Record Review
The orchestral sound is well judged, combining atmospheric resonance with the right amount of clarity for the Wilfred Owen settings, and balance and co-ordination between the orchestra and choruses. --Richard Fairman, Gramophone