A Conversation for Benjamin Britten's War Requiem

britten's requiem

Post 1

stella x

great entry. However, I may be wrong, but I don't think you mentioned his use of Owen's "Strange Meeting". Sorry if I'm doing you an injustice.

britten's requiem

Post 2

Bels - an incurable optimist. A1050986

See the third paragraph under 'Musical Forces'. smiley - smiley

But Britten does alter the full meaning of this poem by cutting out Owen's reference to hell.

britten's requiem

Post 3



Welcome to h2g2! Can I make a suggestion? Put something, anything, on your personal space - just "hello, it's me" is enough. Then people will be able to speak to you directly at your personal space. Till you do that, you're just a number, and it's a shame to register here and not take full advantage. Welcome again...

Not a number... a free man!

britten's requiem

Post 4

stella x


Good point. Thanks.

Love S.

britten's requiem

Post 5

stella x


I'm terribly sorry. I'm a bit new to this and didn't read your entry properly. In my defence I'm ignorant about music but v. interested in 20th c. poems, so went off half cocked. So sorry.

I find Britten's requiem startling and almost too moving to listen to. But as I say I'm ignorant about music generally. Since you obviously know your subject, could you give me your opinion about Pears' voice? I've heard a variety of conflicting views and don't know what to make of it. (Also, without wanting to appear paranoid or p.c., some criticisms I've heard seem to have a rather spiteful almost homophobic edge. Is this just me?) What do you think? My ear isn't educated enough to tell a mediocre voice from a good or even great one. What d'you think?

Cheers, S.

Britten's War Requiem

Post 6

Bels - an incurable optimist. A1050986

Dear S

Please, there's no need to apologise. It's quite all right. 'Strange Meeting' is mentioned in the entry, as it happens, but not all the Owen poems set by Britten are. That's because the entry is about Britten not Owen, and also because there is already a Guide Entry about Owen's poems. Actually I think Rosenberg was a greater poet than Owen, but that's another story.

Regarding homophobia in music criticism, it never ceases to amaze me. I haven't the faintest idea how anyone can tell anything about the sexuality of a composer (eg Britten, Copland) from the music. The same goes for performers too. If you didn't already know that Pears was gay, how could you possibly tell that from hearing him sing? No, go read something more intelligent.

Regarding Pears' voice and artistry - well, this sort of thing is always a matter of taste. There are a number of great singers who have big reputations but whose voice I personally don't like. I might appreciate the way they approach a role, their command of technique, flexibility, acting ability and other qualities, and still not like the voice.

I do like Pears' voice, however. It is not that of your usual great operatic tenor, of course, but with Ben writing for it, it was a great instrument. It is absolutely distinctive and instantly recognisable (as most great musicians are), and spine-chillingly expressive in that music. In other music, too. If you can get hold of the premiere recording of the War Requiem, listen to Pears at the very end of the 'Agnus Dei', and decide for yourself. Or, of course, his much-acclaimed Peter Grimes - the mad scene, for example.


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