La Monnaie ¦ 2014-2015 season ¦ War Requiem ¦ Intro
‘I am the enemy you killed, my friend’. The poetry of the British poet Wilfred Owen, eyewitness and victim of the First World War, made Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem into an act of artistic resistance and an indictment of the senselessness of war. Britten composed this impressive secular requiem, which is undoubtedly one of the masterpieces of the 20th century, for the inauguration of the new Coventry Cathedral in 1962. He opted for an original and compelling alternation of the liturgical requiem mass – performed by a solo soprano and a large orchestra – with settings of Owen’s war poems – performed by a solo tenor and baritone with a chamber orchestra. Can art save the world? ‘All a poet can do today is warn’, said Owen, and Britten made this the motto of his score.
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