Commissioned by the Scottish Ensemble

  • 12 strings
  • cello
  • 17 min

Programme Note

Hamartia means “tragic flaw”: an imperfection of body or character in the hero of a Greek tragedy. Inhabiting the same mind or body as the heroic characteristics which drive and allow the hero’s brave deeds is some weakness or flaw which precipitates his downfall. Implicit in this idea is the assumption that all of us, regardless of our deeds and abilities, will suffer eventual – and ultimate – downfall.

None of the material in the piece is intended to evoke either the heroic or the flawed – rather there is the implication of both heroism and imperfection in the various confrontations and collaborations between the two main types of material in the piece: the elemental, often mechanistic chordal music of the ensemble, and the more expressive, lyrical quality predominantly heard from the cello.

Stuart MacRae, 2003