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Britten - War Requiem
Britten - War Requiem
Actors: Erich Leinsdorf, Phyllis Curtin, Tom Krause, Nicholas Di Virgilio, Boston Symphony Orchestra
Genres: Musicals & Performing Arts
NR     2007     1hr 29min


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Movie Details

Actors: Erich Leinsdorf, Phyllis Curtin, Tom Krause, Nicholas Di Virgilio, Boston Symphony Orchestra
Genres: Musicals & Performing Arts
Sub-Genres: Classical
Studio: Video Artists Int'l
Format: DVD - Black and White
DVD Release Date: 08/28/2007
Original Release Date: 01/01/1963
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1963
Release Year: 2007
Run Time: 1hr 29min
Screens: Black and White
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
Edition: Classical
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Brilliant Britten
Jerry Floyd | Washington, D.C. USA | 12/17/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"How fortunate that VAI is releasing decades-old recordings made by the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO). This "War Requiem" (American premiere) performance was recorded at Tanglewood in July 1963, only a few months before President Kennedy was assassinated. Unlike a lot of archived network video from that era, the VAI video quality is outstanding, supplemented by crystalline stereo sound.

The performance is stunning. Soloists Phyllis Curtin, tenor Nicholas Di Virgilio, and baritone Tom Krause are joined by Chorus Pro Musica and the Columbus Boychoir and of course the world-class BSO, led by Eric Leinsdorf.

The Viennese maestro was not usually associated with Britten's work; I mostly heard him conduct Wagner and Strauss but he conducts Britten's challenging score difficult work as much authority and skill as he demonstrated when leading the two German composers' massive works.

Years ago, the small city of Clarksburg, West Virginia, had a sign on the main highway into town, "Welcome to Clarksburg, West Virginia, the home of Phyllis Curtin". Her radiant performance of Britten's soaring music is another reminder of this soprano's talents. Krause was also well known in the opera world; Di Virgilio less so. But all three soloists sing splendidly and the BSO and the two choirs provide worthy accompaniment.

An informative booklet accompanies this release and the inimitable BSO announcer William Pierce introduces the performance, dedicated by the BSO to the memory of its former maestro, Serge Koussevitzky."
Ian C. Punter | Thailand | 03/07/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"A DVD of Britten's War Requiem, conducted by Rostropovich, was announced early last year, but its issue seems to have been shelved for some reason. A shame, as it would have made a fitting tribute to the late, great cellist/conductor, (and as it also included a substantial documentary). I have a VHS of Rostropovich conducting the Requiem at the Royal Albert Hall, (not the performance that was due to be released, which I think was with the NDR Orchestra and of recent origin), and it was clearly a work with which he identified closely.
As I looked in vain for that DVD to appear, up popped the announcement of the Leinsdorf/Boston version. I wavered at first, concerned about how 'historical' the pictures and sound might be. Also, I confess, having 'grown up' with the LPs, and then CDs, with the composer conducting, the thought of a Leinsdorf performance didn't exactly grab me, fine conductor though he is. (Prokofiev's 6th Symphony, and Mahler's 3rd are two favourites that spring to mind).
Well, any such fears proved groundless. The performance is the American premiere, but who might have guessed? There must have been much rehearsal time allotted and all the soloists, choirs and conductor are as one, totally committed.
Pictures are what one would expect, of their time, but I think one might pay tribute to the TV director for his choice of shots, camera positions etc (I have filmed the BSO in the 'Shed' for the BBC many years ago, - not easy!) This obviously is a 'live' recording, (no reshoots or 'patching' presumably), and the work would have been a 'first' for him as well. I personally saw everything I wished to see, on cue.
The sound? Astonishing. Full impact. Again, not exactly 'controllable' concert-hall conditions for the engineers to work in, but let's just say that the performance could as well be reissued just on CD and no allowances would have to be made.
The only 'historical' aspect that wore a bit thin, was the commentary before and after, by the regular BSO commentator. A judicious use of the Fast Forward button will spare you the '...and now coming on to the platform is...' and ' leaving the platform is...' Fine for a radio broadcast, but DVD? Nonetheless all part of the 'Boston' experience I suppose, and a very minor quibble indeed.
Highly recommended.

G. Schroeder | Boise, ID USA | 09/29/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The War Requiem is monumental both in scope and significance, capturing the sense of tragedy as we entered the Vietnam era. I was a student, sitting thousands of people back at this performance. It was gut wrenching then and is now. The sound quality is remarkable for the era and the conditions under which it was recorded. The performance was at night, so the black and white presentation doesn't detract as it would if this were a colorful show piece. It comes pretty close to the mood. Britten's own superb recording which was issued contemporaneously and this live visual performance combine to bring the power of this work together. Neither should be missed."