Thomas Adès: America - A Prophecy

Thomas Adès: America - A Prophecy

by Thomas Adès


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Thomas Adès: America - A Prophecy

This EMI reissue an album of pieces by British composer Thomas Adès, written while he was still in his 20s and 30s, features primarily vocal and choral music. The largest and most ambitious work, "America: A Prophecy" (1999), was commissioned by the New York Philharmonic. A cantata for soprano, chorus, and orchestra, it depicts the Spanish destruction of the Mayan culture, and its title and some of its text make it eerily prescient of the devastation of 9/11/2001. The texts are taken from Mayan prophecy and a song by Spanish composer Mateo Flecha that was written around the time of the Mayan conquest. It's a powerful and disturbing work that's bound to chill anyone with a memory of 9/11. Soprano Susan Bickley and the composer leading the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Chorus deliver a gripping performance. The remaining works are considerably less grim, and some are among the composer's most immediately engaging. Stephen Layton leads the ensemble Polyphony in four quirkily appealing choral works. The remarkable soprano Claron McFadden performs "Life Story," a jazzy setting of Tennessee Williams. There are imaginative arrangements, witty and elegant, respectively, of the band Madness' 1982 ska song "Cardiac Arrest," and of Couperin's harpsichord solo "Les Baricades mistérieuses." Brahms is a setting of a poem by pianist Alfred Brendel sung by baritone Christopher Maltman. Counter tenor Robin Blaze and pianist Huw Watkins performs the cycle "The Lover in Winter," one of Adès' earliest pieces, in which the influence of Britten is evident, but in which the composer's distinctive voice is already emerging. The eclectic sampling of pieces would make a good introduction to Adès for listeners interested in exploring his work.

Product Details

Release Date: 05/17/2011
Label: Warner Classics
UPC: 5099902720128
catalogNumber: 27201


  1. Brahms, for baritone & orchestra, Op. 21
  2. Les Baricades mistérieuses, for harpsichord (Pièces de clavecin, II, 6e ordre)
  3. Cardiac Arrest
  4. Life Story, for soprano, 2 bass clarinets & double bass, Op. 8
  5. The Lover in Winter, song cycle for countertenor & piano
  6. O thou who didst with pitfall and with gin, for male chorus, Op. 3a
  7. January Writ, for chorus & organ
  8. Fool's Rhymes, for chorus, harp, prepared piano, organ & percussion, Op. 5
  9. The Fayrfax Carol, for chorus (& organ)
  10. America (a prophecy), for soprano & large orchestra (optional large chorus), Op. 19

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