This compelling survey of music by the Scottish composer Stuart MacRae – a fifth instalment in the acclaimed Hebrides Ensemble/Delphian Records series of composer portraits – focuses on works of the last decade while also reaching back to include two pieces from the composer’s mid-twenties.
Reflecting diverse inspirations from nature and myth, it also reveals underlying continuities: a preoccupation, in particular, with questions of scale and perspective. The ancient Greek hero Prometheus receives an unexpectedly intimate portrait, his human aspects to the fore – flawed yet sympathetic. MacRae’s perception of the natural world, meanwhile, extends from the microscopic scale of lichen to the vastness of the night sky, in which the medium of distance transmutes all turmoil into calm.
“There’s a sense of that distinction here, in examples stretching from the gestural simplicity of Tol-Pedn … to the effervescent wonderment of Ursa Minor, written for this recording and inspired by nighttime walks during lockdown. Rich, responsive performances do full justice to these and other works.”
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
“This beautifully performed composer portrait from the Hebrides Ensemble captures Stuart MacRae at his most searching… Dark Liquid and Diversion (The room behind the room behind the room) are spontaneous responses to the lockdown nocturnally explored in the haunting Ursa Minor (2020).”
|“This is an intelligently programmed album of intelligently constructed, sonically well-imagined music by one of Scotland’s most innovative composers, Stuart MacRae…The Hebrides Ensemble … prove exemplary guides through MacRae’s at times gaunt musical landscapes, yet ones filled with much incidental beauty…Superb sound and excellent performances throughout.”