Holloway: Third Concerto for Orchestra

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WORKS: Third Concerto for Orchestra
PERFORMER: LSO/Michael Tilson Thomas
Robin Holloway’s style is difficult to pin down: each new work seems to come from a different angle. Here he is found in an extravagant, impressionistic mode. For all the title’s implication of abstraction, what he has created is little short of a four-movement, 45-minute musical picture of South America, from the Great Brazilian Swamp, by way of the blue waters of Lake Titicaca, to a raucous New Year celebration. In some respects, Holloway’s sound-world here harks back to the exoticism of Koechlin and Villa-Lobos, but the richness of the harmonies are postmodern. The work was conceived during a visit the composer made to the continent in 1981, but it was only completed in 1994. This is the recording of the world premiere, at the Barbican Hall in London in April last year. I remember being bowled over by the work then, and welcomed the chance to hear it again on this CD: the density of incident and sheer colour and detail in the orchestration need repeated hearings to appreciate fully. Tilson Thomas guides the LSO through Holloway’s musical swamp with authority, and the recording displays little of a live concert’s drawbacks. Matthew Rye