Stuart MacRae's Prometheus Symphony at Lammermuir Festival 2019 is “astonishing", "radiant”

6 November 2019

Stuart MacRae’s most recent largescale orchestral score, Prometheus Symphony, has received excellent reviews for its first performance.

The work received its premiere with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra at the 2019 Lammermuir Festival, marking the culmination of a triptych of works commissioned by the festival on the Prometheus myth, and has been praised for its raw drama and rich expressivity by the press.

“MacRae’s astonishing Prometheus Symphony, the last of his three works as the festival’s composer in association, was a nervy, dramatic exploration of the Greek myth in almost a sequence of semi-operatic scenas, sung with brilliant conviction by soprano Jennifer France and baritone Paul Carey Jones. It stuttered into life in a dark procession as Prometheus is led to his unending punishment, but passed through radiant, shifting tonal harmonies before ending in a pensive, somewhat ambiguous reflection on his achievements for the future of humankind.” - David Kettle, Daily Telegraph

“A powerful and muscular work, scored for full orchestra and two soloists, MacRae’s Prometheus Symphony pulls on an assortment of relevant texts, from Aeschylus to Goethe, and weaves them into a sound world that is fundamentally primitive (at its most basic a raw, often mystical triadic confusion of major and minor constantly bludgeoned by anvil-like attacks on percussion), yet blossoms with an abundance of effusive lyricism – soulful qualities that have become a recent feature in MacRae’s maturing style.” - Ken Walton, The Scotsman

Further recent works also include a short new commission premiered at this year’s BBC Proms – Courante – written for John Butt and the Dunedin Consort to complement their performance of Bach’s Suite No. 3. His opera Anthropocene, which opened to stunning reviews earlier in 2019, will have its first major restaging this season, with a new production at the Salzburger Landestheater in May and June 2020.

The Prometheus Symphony was broadcast on Radio 3 and is available to listen for a limited time here, beginning around 1 hour 40 minutes in.

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