Altiplano

1990

For: Symphony Orchestra
3Fl (3+Picc), 2Ob, CA, 3Cl (3+BCl), 3Bn (3+CBn),
4Hn, 3Tpt, 3Tbn, Tba,
3Perc, Harp, Pno,
Large String Section
Duration: 18 minutes

At 4,500 metres above sea level, the Altiplano lies between the twin ranges of the Andes in what today is Bolivia. This high, treeless plain, surrounded by snow covered peaks, has been the cradle from which many civilisations have arisen, the Incas being the final indigenous incarnation before the arrival of the Conquistadores. Their descendants, the Aymara and Quechua Indians, still make up the majority of Bolivia's population and have a unique culture noted for its music. In prehistoric times the Altiplano was a huge inland sea which has gradually drained, the remnants being Lake Titicaca, which the Incas believed to be the birthplace of the sun, and a series of lesser lakes. In the south, the Salar de Uyuni provides further evidence of the Altiplano's marine history being a vast salt lake - 12,000 square kilometres of white wilderness. Further south, Laguna Colorada lies in the middle of a cold desert and is a bright red lake fringed with ice. It is home to several rare species of flamingo. At the very end of the Altiplano, overlooked by volcanoes, Laguna Verde is bright green from the sulphur dissolved in its waters. This strange and magnificent landscape provided me with the inspiration for this piece. I have not tried to describe its features pictorially, but have attempted to capture the atmosphere and character of the place and its people.

Reviews

Ades's "Asyla" is hymned as a masterpiece,but "Altiplano", in many ways a more subtle concerto for orchestra, deserves the same classic status.
Roderic Dunnett - The Independent

...it's [Altiplano] as alluring as a modern-day "La Mer"
Roderic Dunnett - The Independent

Scarabino built the piece [Altiplano] towards its animated climax, kept the rippling inner voices in place and allowed the haunting close to make its full impact.
John Allison - The Times