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Classical album review: Benjamin Britten, War Requiem – Antonio Pappano (Warner)


Of all the many great works by Britten revisited live and on disc for the centenary of the composer’s birth this month, perhaps none packs the punch of his War Requiem, the words of the Latin Mass for the dead punctuated by the frank front-line poetry of Wilfred Owen.

Antonio Pappano conducts the orchestra, choir and boys’ choir of Santa Cecilia in Rome with, as at the first performance at the newly rebuilt Coventry Cathedral on 30 May 1962, an international line-up giving voice to Britten’s condemnation of lives sacrificed in the Second World War, and appeal for peace.

Shatteringly moving, superbly sung by Anna Netrebko, Ian Bostridge and Thomas Hampson, this piece is for life, not just for Remembrance Sunday.