Paul McCreesh

Britten: War Requiem

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Continuing his Wratislavia Cantans Oratorio Series, Paul McCreesh turns to Benjamin Britten's War Requiem for his 2013 release on Signum Classics. Combining the forces of his stalwart Gabrieli Consort & Players with the Wroclaw Philharmonic Choir, the Gabrieli Young Singers Scheme, and the trebles of the Choir of New College Oxford, and relying on soprano Susan Gritton, tenor John Mark Ainsley, and baritone Christopher Maltman as strong vocal soloists, McCreesh pays tribute to this imposing masterpiece, in much the same manner he treated Hector Berlioz's Grand Messe des Morts and Felix Mendelssohn's Elijah in previous recordings. Of course, Britten's own 1963 recording on Decca is still readily available and remains the authoritative version of this work. Yet McCreesh's version is a compelling interpretation, delivered with commitment and gravitas, and the singing is quite satisfying on every level, both in the settings of the Latin texts and the English poems by Wilfred Owen. Somewhat unusually, the recording took place in three separate venues, though the sound overall is resonant and spacious; even so, there is a slight problem of hearing every word, and the ensemble is at times a bit remote.

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