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The Boston Globe

Theater & art

Music Review

Boston Symphony Orchestra, Charles Dutoit honor Britten

Art remembering war is always a fraught endeavor. Large and weighty public narratives of commemoration can often seem at odds with the private sting of loss.

Against this backdrop, Britten’s “War Requiem” stands out for how it surveys the past from 10,000 feet but also restores the granularity of individual soldiers suffering in the trenches. Its pathos and power derive from the way Britten interweaves settings of two very different texts: the traditional Latin mass for the Dead and the poetry of Wilfred Owen, a soldier who fought and died in World War I, and whose verse captured the sensual immediacy of the battlefield as well as the utter pointlessness of mass slaughter, the sheer fathomless waste of it all.

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