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Comparisons between a landmark first recording and those that follow it may be inevitable, but they need not be invidious. Since Benjamin Britten's classic rendition of his War Requiem, Op. 66, set an incredibly high standard, it seems unlikely that others could match it. Yet this remarkably controlled but powerful and ultimately moving performance by the Washington Chorus and Orchestra, the Shenandoah Conservatory Choir, and the Maryland Boy Choir, conducted by Robert Shafer, is almost on the mark. Shafer no doubt has studied Britten's performance closely and has generally followed it in pacing and in emphasizing particular details in the orchestration; yet everything here is fluid and natural, and this version shows no signs of slavish imitation. The vocal soloists are all topnotch, and sing without affectation; soprano Christine Goerke is outstanding in her ethereal solos with the chorus. Bearing in mind that this live 1995 recording has a few flaws -- extraneous audience noises here and there, and... Hide synopsis

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