The San Francisco Symphony provided an upbeat to Robin Holloway’s 60th birthday year, presenting the North American premiere of his Viola Concerto in December with soloist Geraldine Walther and conductor Edwin Outwater. Written for Rivka Golani, the concerto is one of the most admired of Holloway’s works of the 1980s and proved to be a hit in California, where the San Francisco Chronicle described it as “a beautiful and ingeniously crafted score”. The San Francisco Symphony and its Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas have proved strong supporters of Holloway’s music in recent years, commissioning Clarissa Sequence, presenting the US premiere of his Third Concerto for Orchestra, and inviting the composer to create an orchestration of Debussy’s En Blanc et Noir for the 2003/04 season, and to write a new orchestral work for 2004/05.
“Holloway is one of the most resourceful and intellectually subtle contemporary composers to draw extensively on music of the past… Yet for all its indebtedness to past masters there’s nothing reactionary or warmed-over about it. On the contrary, the writing abounds with surprises and brilliant touches… Holloway transmutes his models into something truly original. This is neo-Romanticism with a human face.
“The melodic writing is fluid and evocative… most impressive is the way Holloway balances the sound of the viola… The orchestration is handled with such clever assurance that it’s impossible to say how the trick is done… That achievement was especially notable given the dark, urgent splendour of Geraldine Walther’s playing, bringing out the energy and grace of Holloway’s score.”
San Franscisco Chronicle
“…cannily written… eloquent, intelligent…”
San Francisco Classical Voice
60th birthday events
UK celebrations planned for Holloway’s 60th birthday year include a BBC Philharmonic/Royal Northern College of Music focus in Manchester in October including a concert with three of the composer’s greatest works, Second Concerto for Orchestra, Scenes from Schumann and the Violin Concerto with Ernst Kovacic (17 October). Holloway features are planned at the Hampstead and Highgate Festival (10-24 May), Presteigne Festival (21-26 Aug) and Cambridge Festival (14-20 Nov). The Nash Ensemble’s Holloway portrait concert at the Wigmore Hall (4 Oct) will couple its new commission Spring Music with Fantasy-Pieces.
The premiere recording of Gilded Goldbergs, Holloway’s prismatic view of Bach for piano duet was recently released by Hyperion as a two-for-the-price-of-one disc (CDA 67360).
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Holloway Photo: © Hanya Chlala /ArenaPAL
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