Entitled Requiem, The Pity of War, the programme spans almost 50 years, from the final decade of the 19th century to the height of World War II. Gustav Mahler and Kurt Weill are joined by two composers of both promise and achievement whose lives were cut short by the Great War, the Englishman George Butterworth (1885-1916) and the German Rudi Stephan (1887-1915).
The concert opens with three songs from Mahler’s folk song-inspired collection Des Knaben Wunderhorn. They are followed by Rudi Stephan’s cycle of six songs, Ich will dir singen ein Hohelied. Composed in 1913-14 in a style that straddles Romanticism and modernism, the songs set sensual poems by Gerda von Robertus (1872-1939).
Ian Bostridge and Antonio Pappano release 'Requiem, The Pity of War' as an album on Warner Classics on 26 Oct. It is performed live at the Barbican on 5 Dec
Then come six songs from George Butterworth’s poignant and lyrical collection A Shropshire Lad. He composed them around 1910 to poems by AE Housman, which were written in the shadow of the Second Boer War (1899-1902) and later read by many English soldiers in the trenches.
Kurt Weill’s Four Walt Whitman Songs date from 1942, seven years after the composer had settled in New York as a refugee from Nazi Germany. Whitman wrote the texts during the American Civil War (1861-1865) – the most famous is ‘O Captain! My Captain!’ – and Weill’s music, acknowledging his new home, incorporates elements of blues and Broadway.
“There is a tremendous variety of colour and harmonic approach in these songs,” says Pappano. “It’s amazing how history had a hand in creating and inspiring them. The horror and – as Wilfred Owen said – the pity of war are very much present in these songs, but there is also anger and loss. They are very dramatic and hugely compelling for an audience.”
|What||5 Dec: Requiem, The Pity of War, Barbican|
|Where||Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8DS | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Barbican (underground)|
On 05 Dec 18, 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM