Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Britten War Requiem 2002 Rostropovich/NDR SO broadcast

Britten, Benjamin

War Requiem, Op. 66

live broadcast

Turbinenhalle, Peenemünde

28 September 2002

Mstislav Rostropovich, conductor

Andreas Sebastian Weiser, assistant conductor

NDR Symphony Orchestra

NDR Radio Philharmonic Hannover

Elina Prokina, soprano

Anthony Rolfe Johnson, tenor

Andreas Schmidt, baritone

Coventry Cathedral Boys' Choir

Boys Choir of St. Nikolai, Hamburg

Philharmonia Chorus

NDR Choir

BBC Singers

Regardless of the earnest policy-oriented appeal below, this performance is chosen for it's quality. It is not the most impeccably recorded thing sound-wise, but what is here rises beyond the myriad War Requiems I've heard over the years. Uncompromisingly bled by Mstislav Rostropovich, it has none of that furioso impulse of Pappano's take in 2005, nor the scrappiness of a Ringborg broadcast.
What Rostropovich brings to this is a searing, nuanced construction which does justice to the subject.

When Britten composed this War Requiem, heads of state would send their nation's kids to kill another nation's youth.

That procedure has been proving less and less useful. Maybe now we can have fewer large-scale actions; instead of vast amounts of people, machinery going from here to there ( -and the arms manufacturers and suppliers reaping a disproportionate sum of the monetary benefits), there will be more targeted murders of deserving humans. This should be done with concomitant transparency of motives. Fewer deaths, higher "return on investment"?


My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori."1

My friend Kelly (who also has a horse in this race, having become a mom recently, congrats!) found a great summation:

"Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."~Martin Luther King, Jr.

May the recent news allow more of our troops to be brought safely home; if they must remain I want to see their rifles slung on their backs because their hands are full of water-treatment infrastructure, fertile seeds, and some grateful local's donation of a home-cooked meal.


1 Owen, Wilfred (8 October 1917 - March, 1918). "DULCE ET DECORUM EST"