Wednesday, November 22, 2023

John Rutter sang on the first recording of Britten's War Requiem

I can remember singing Old Abram Brown at school, but the first time I made a point of listening to one of Benjamin Britten's works I was in my early twenties. I had just read The Turn of the Screw and Radio Three was broadcasting the opera Britten made from it.

I found the music difficult, but interesting enough that I wanted to hear again.

Britten is now one of my very favourite composers, up there with Bach and Schubert. And the first of his works that I really got to understand was the War Requiem. I loved everything about it, even the austere black-and-white Decca box that the records came in.

Today, the 110th anniversary of Britten's birth, I came across this pleasing piece of trivia. The composer John Rutter sang on that Decca recording of the War Requiem as a member of the choir of Highgate School.

There is a fascinating video on YouTube in which you can hear Britten rehearsing the soloists, orchestra and choirs before that recording was made.

Here is a short and amusing clip from it. (If you follow the link to YouTube, you can listen to the whole thing.)

No comments: