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The first ideas for the Third Concerto for Orchestra came during a trip through South America: there are sound pictures of Lake Titicaca, riotous New Year's Day celebrations in the Bay of Bahia,... —
Holloway, R: Concerto for Orchestra No. 3, Op. 80
Work length44:31 London Symphony Orchestra Michael Tilson Thomas
The first ideas for the Third Concerto for Orchestra came during a trip through South America: there are sound pictures of Lake Titicaca, riotous New Year's Day celebrations in the Bay of Bahia, the slow train-crossing of the Great Brazilian Swamp and the huge, satanic slag heap at the Potosì Silver Mine. Holloway jotted them all down on the spot: then his notebook was stolen, and it took another 13 years to recall them and finish the piece. By then, the alchemical processes of memory had transformed the original musical impressions into something quite different. What might have been simply a descriptive tone-poem finally emerged as a powerful and unusual musical argument – a huge slow movement, with a moderately fast dance-like finale, which evolves from tiny scraps of motifs (there's hardly a 'theme' in sight). And yet much of the original 'illustrative' character of the piece remains.
String and woodwind textures recall dense, overripe rain forest foliage; the dark, 'sluggish' first movement suggests the movement of a vast, slow, muddy river; extravagant sensuousness contrasts with clangorous bells or craggy brass.
This recording, based on its 1996 premiere, is quite an achievement. It's rare for a conductor and an orchestra to show such a compelling grasp of the shape and atmosphere of a work at its first performance.
Technically the sound has none of the usual problems associated with a live recording – virtually no intrusive noise, good balance, warm tone.