On Saturday, June 15, Sir Simon Rattle celebrates Benjamin Britten’s 100th anniversary with a performance of the War Requiem. His orchestra is the great Berlin Philharmonic, and they’re joined by the Rundfunkchor Berlin and soloists Emily Magee, John Mark Ainsley and Matthias Goerne.
Gramophone’s readers and visitors to our website can watch the performance for free, courtesy of the Berlin Philharmonic, both live and then when it is available in the Digital Concert Hall’s archive. Simply register on the DCH’s website and enter the code WARREQ79C when prompted, and you will have immediate access to the DCH.
Britten’s War Requiem was commissioned for the consecration of the new cathedral in Coventry and premiered in the cathedral on May 30, 1962. The work is scored for a full orchestra as well as chamber orchestra, chorus, boys’ choir, organ and three soloists which Britten conceived as being Russian (Galina Vishnevskaya), British (Peter Pears) and German (Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau) – the Berlin performance employs a British tenor and a German baritone. When Decca recorded the War Requiem in 1963 under Britten’s baton, it sold over 200,000 copies in its first five months of release. Since then there have been at least a dozen recordings of the work, and during the 2012-13 concert season, it will be heard in over 60 live performances around the world.
Visit Gramophone’s website later this week to watch a video conversation between Sir Simon Rattle and Gramophone’s editor in chief, James Jolly.