'America - A Prophecy' reviews

'A soprano sibyl warns the nation to prepare for those who “will burn all the land, all the sky”; and then, in a mantra-like lament, she grieves for the burning and the weeping. She is met by a chorus chanting words of uncertain hope; and her voice rises, gloriously, above a vast orchestral landscape, a Babel of heavy percussion slashed by brass and screaming woodwind. This is a huge world of experience held within daringly little space. And Adès controls it by some of his most rigorous scoring and structuring to date.'
The Times (Hilary Finch), 16 June 2000

'A fluent, convulsive two-movement essay, Adès’ work predicts an apocalyptic end to the self-styled greatest nation on earth…Even those who cannot empathise on a political level would surely celebrate a music that is sure not only of what it wants to say, but of how it
wants to say it. For America - A Prophecy also effectively censures the cheap and easy culture to which too many technically ell-equipped but emotionally shallow composers, American and not, have contributed these two decades.'
Evening Standard (Stephen Pettitt), 30 August 2002

'Thomas Adès stood apart from the crowd. America - A Prophecy came across not as a message but a cry of pain…Adès risked chaos in this music: it’s grander and rougher than anything he has done to date, and it lacks his customary playfulness. It seems to have been written out of burning necessity.'
The New Yorker (Alex Ross), 29 November 1999

'America - A Prophecy is forceful, it is thrilling. What it says, though, is shimmering and many-layered. It projects the prophet’s sense of doom, but also the exaltation of the prophetic stance…In terms of the future, it seems to be saying that something momentous is coming and we do not know which side we will be on. Its expressive character, complex but precise, comes partly from an orchestral polyphony that has those same qualities…If one can take the work as a prophecy of another sort, looking forward to the Adès’ projected largescale opera, the signs are all wonderfully encouraging, looking forward to hopes and dreams indeed.'
The Times Literary Supplement (Paul Griffiths), 3 December 1999

'America - A prophecy would in any circumstances be powerful. Here the parallels with the Ives made it quite overwhelming…Adès’ sound-world wove magic and horror by turn, manic yet vibrant…Together they reinforced the perception of Adès as one of the most enlightened imaginations of his generation. Setting aside the word’s more perturbing connotations, he is indeed a visionary.'
The Guardian (Rian Evans), 30 March 2002

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