“Benjamin Britten’s ‘War Requiem’ has been justly hailed as a masterpiece,” writes Barbara Jepson in Sunday’s (11/30) Wall Street Journal (subscription required). “Written in 1961 by a longtime pacifist, this 85-minute piece is one of the most despairing ever written.… The British composer ingeniously juxtaposed nine poems of Wilfred Owen, a disillusioned enlisted officer killed in the final days of World War I, with the traditional Latin Mass for the Dead…. To mark the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, 13 orchestras in North America scheduled the ‘War Requiem’ this season. Of particular interest were the three performances that began on Thursday at the Kennedy Center by the National Symphony Orchestra under its music director, Gianandrea Noseda…. It’s worth noting how many regional orchestras in the modest $1.5 million to $3.2 million annual budget range also tackled this challenging work…. They include the Albany Symphony, Fort Wayne Philharmonic, Fresno Philharmonic, Tulsa Symphony and Wichita Symphony. The Ann Arbor Symphony will present the Requiem on Feb. 16, 2019. With the exception of Wichita, each was mounting the piece for the first time … suggesting that the ‘War Requiem’ is penetrating more broadly into the musical canon on these shores.”

Posted December 4, 2018