What can be said about Britten�s own recording that hasn�t already been said? That the soloists � soprano Galina Vishnevskaya, tenor Peter Pears and baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau � are not only three of the great singers of the 20th century and the creators of their parts but for all intents and purposes definitive? That the Bach Choir, the London Symphony Orchestra Chorus and especially the Highgate School Choir are absolutely magnificent and unbearably moving? That the Melos Ensemble and the London Symphony Orchestra are altogether wonderful and overwhelmingly powerful? That John Culshaw�s production was in its time and remains in our time as vivid as life and immediate as death? That Britten�s conducting is, without a doubt and beyond all argument, unsurpassable? It�s all been said before.
What can be said that hasn�t already been said is that this particular release of the War Requiem includes about 50 minutes in 11 separate cues of Britten�s rehearsals for the recording. These rehearsals don�t add anything to the work or the performance but they do allow the listener to hear Britten create the performance, sometimes note by note, and thereby allow the listener to hear the work with much greater clarity. For those who already own one of the previous releases of this recording, this might not seem like a compelling reason to pick up this release. But for anyone who deeply love the work and the composer, the rehearsals will be fascinating listening.