The War Requiem, Op. 66 is a large-scale, non-liturgical setting of the Requiem Mass composed by Benjamin Britten in 1962. Interspersed with the traditional Latin texts are pasted, collage-like, settings of Wilfred Owen poems. The work is scored for soprano, tenor and baritone soloists, chorus, boys' choir, organ, and two orchestras (a full orchestra and a chamber orchestra).
The War Requiem was commissioned for the reconsecration of Coventry Cathedral on May 30, 1962 after the original fourteenth century structure was destroyed in a World War II bombing raid on the night of November 14, 1940. As a pacifist, Britten was inspired by the commission, which gave him complete freedom in choosing the type of music he would like to compose. He conceived of setting the traditional Latin Mass for the Dead interwoven with nine poems about war by the English poet Wilfred Owen. Owen, who was born in 1893, was serving as the commander of a rifle company when he was killed in action on 4 November 1918 during the crossing of the Sambre-Oise Canal in France, just one week before the Armistice. Although he was virtually unknown at the time of his death, he has subsequently come to be revered as one of the great war poets.
Libera me (soprano solo and chorus)
Strange Meeting ("It seems that out of battle I escaped") (tenor and baritone soli)
In paradisum (All)
Conclusion -Requiem Aeternam and Requiescat in Pace (Organ, Boys` choir and Mixed Chorus)
Libera me, Domine, de morte aeterna,
in die illa tremenda:
Quando coeli movendi sunt et terra:
Dum veneris judicare saeculum per ignem
Deliver me, O Lord, from eternal death
in that awful day
when the heavens and earth shall be shaken
when Thou shalt come to judge the world by fire.
Soprano and Chorus:
Tremens factus sum ego, et timeo
dum discussio venerit, atque ventura ira.
Libera me, Domine, de morte aeterna.
Quando coeli movendi sunt i terra.
Dies illa, dies irae, calamitatis
et miseriae, dies magna et amara valde.
Libera me, Domine.
Soprano and Chorus:
I am seized with fear and trembling,
until the trial shall be at hand and the wrath to come.
Deliver me, O Lord, from eternal death.
When the heavens and earth shall be shaken.
That day, that day of wrath, of calamity
and misery, a great day and exceeding bitter.
Deliver me, O Lord.
Galina Vishnevskaya (soprano)
The Bach Choir
London Symphony Chorus
London Symphony Orchestra
Benjamin Britten cond.