This delightful and imaginative work was commissioned by Texaco Ltd for the English Chamber Orchestra’s tour of America, under Charles Mackerras in 1984. And, Holloway has said, he was thinking of Mackerras’s interests and strengths – Handel and Janacek – when he was composing the work. There are several striking features: the strings are divided into two groups, one on either side of the conductor; and for the central Scherzo, the woodwind players have to move unobtrusively to the front of the orchestra, while the two horns move to the sides of the orchestra. Before and after the central Scherzo, come two movements for the antiphonal strings. Holloway calls them Echo-Canzonas and they share similar material. The opening movement is called Ostinaglia, a word coined by Holloway from Ostinato and Passacaglia, and it serves as a striking, almost Handelian, Prelude, while the Finale, a slowish and richly-scored movement for the full orchestra, could be said to serve as an Epilogue.
Repertoire Note by Peter Marchbank