Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Karel Ančerl

Britten: War Requiem

Catalogue Number: SU 4135-2
Published: 21st June 2013
Genre: Vocal
Format: 2 CD
Britten - War Requiem, Spring Symphony, The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra / Karel Ančerl

Benjamin Britten's music formed one of the pillars of the Czech Philharmonic's concert programmes under its chief conductor Karel Ančerl. The famous Variations on a Theme of Purcell was in all likelihood the most frequently performed work (in 1962 also in England), and this CD contains the previously unreleased 1958 recording in the original version without narration. The enchanting and joyous Spring Symphony, commissioned by Serge Koussevitzky, was presented in Czech in Prague by Ančerl, the Czech Philharmonic and the finest soloists of the time. Forming a stark contrast to these two works is the War Requiem, a grand piece commemorating the victims of the most gruesome armed conflict in human history. Britten dedicated it to the memory of four friends of his who died in WWII while serving in the British navy or army. The work's Czech premiere, with the participation of superlative foreign soloists (Gerald English, John Cameron), took place less than four years after its world premiere. So enthused was he by the work that in November 1969, following his emigration to Canada, Ančerl included the War Requiem in one of his first concerts in Toronto. The conductor's personal profound experience of the senseless barbarity of the war imbued his conception of the work with a chilling authenticity. Both of the two previously unreleased concert recordings were made by the former Czechoslovak Radio.

Britten conducted by Karel Ančerl - previously unreleased unique recordings from the Prague Radio archives!


“[English's] elocution is in every way comparable to Peter Pears's own, the instrument even leaner and the delivery trenchantly objective…This is no the most pleasant-sounding recording of the War Requiem. It is surely, though, the one which best draws together the threads of this difficult form.“
International Record Review, September 2013

“The Czech premiere of the War Requiem from 1966 is raw but urgent..Collectors will be pleased to encounter leading Czech singers Naděžda Kniplová and Beno Blachut among the soloists but this set is strictly one for the historical category.“
Gramophone, October 2013

“English’s singing is consistently clear and incisive and Cameron has a fine, rounded tone and an excellent sense of line…[Kniplová] projects the ‘Liber scriptus’ powerfully and accurately…she’s fu­lly up to the work’s histrionic challenges…An­čerl’s directi­on of the score is impressive. He’s clearly committed to the music and he ensures that rhythms are crisply articulated.“
MusicWeb International, 11th November 2013

CD 1

Benjamin Britten
War requiem for soprano, tenor and baritone soli, chorus, orchestra, chamber orchestra, boys' choir and organ to the liturgical text of the Requiem Mass, Op. 66
1. Requiem aeternam 09:21
2. Dies irae 25:51
3. Offertorium 09:29
4. Sanctus 09:51
5. Agnus Dei 03:41
6. Libera me 22:23

CD 2

Benjamin Britten
1. The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra. Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Purcell, Op. 34 17:20
Benjamin Britten
Spring Symphony for soprano, alto and tenor soli, mixed chorus, boys' choir and orchestra, Op. 44
2. Part 1 - I. Indtroduction: Shine out 09:02
3. Part 1 - II. The merry cuckoo 02:03
4. Part 1 - III. Spring, the sweet spring 01:41
5. Part 1 - IV. The driving boy 01:58
6. Part 1 - V. The morning star 03:10
7. Part 2 - VI. Welcome maids of honour 02:43
8. Part 2 - VII. Waters above 02:34
9. Part 2 - VIII. Out on the lawn I lie in bed 05:52
10. Part 3 - IX. When will my May come 02:35
11. Part 3 - X. Fair and fair 02:36
12. Part 3 - XI. Sound the flute 01:27
13. Část 4 - XII. Finale: London, to thee I do present 07:43