Britten’s War Requiem

The London Symphony Orchestra at the White Light Festival on Sunday, October 23.

The most creative, haunting thing about Benjamin Britten's War Requiem is the text, juxtaposing liturgical Latin against verses by war poet Wilfred Owen. It's an audacious choice, sometimes subverting, sometimes embracing the religious significance of the traditional requiem. The music itself doesn't always rise to the level of that simple, provocative brilliance, but it has does have moments of vivid text-painting and unsettling tonal shifts and a genuinely profound finale, gorgeously lush and then heartbreakingly stark. Even if its extramusical credentials weren't impeccable, War Requiem might well have entered the classical music pantheon.