Maestro Ozawa on Britten's 'War Requiem'
I first heard the War Requiem at Carnegie Hall in 1979, with Rostropovich conducting the National Symphony Orchestra. The tenor soloist was the same as in Britten's world premiere, but the soprano was Galina [Vishnevskaya]. I sat in awe throughout this very moving concert.
The first time I conducted this piece was several years after that, when I conducted a Japanese translation in Japan. Since then, I have conducted the War Requiem in Berlin and Boston, among other locations; I have even conducted the Russian language version in Russia with Rostropovich. At that performance, I was leading the chamber orchestra, so I was standing closer to the audience, and I remember being surprised at hearing some in the audience members shedding tears. In this sense, the War Requiem is a piece that has once again taught me the power of music, and I personally believe that as a musical work, it is Britten's highest achievement.
To be given the chance to perform the War Requiem at Carnegie Hall—where Rostropovich first brought me to hear this piece—with the Saito Kinen Orchestra, SKF Matsumoto Choir, Ritsuyukai Choir, SKF Matsumoto Children's Chorus, and three wonderful soloists is truly an honor that gives me the utmost gratitude from the bottom of my heart.
Excerpt from Britten's War Requiem, Te Deum Hymnus | Saito Kinen Orchestra, Seiji Ozawa, Director and Conductor
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