This is one of the most important Hovhaness releases ever from some years back. It contains "Shambala", a Concerto for Sitar, Violin, and Orchestra and was the very first "classical" composition to include the sitar. Ravi Shankar attempted to do so also a year later, no wonder he was inspired-but the result was not impressive. Shambala however is a long, mystical journey; at turns meditative, mysterious, quiet, powerful, sweeping...I could go on and on. "Janabar" is subtitled "Five Hymns of Serenity for Trumpet, Violin, Piano and String Orchestra". It is too a remarkable work. -Here, however, is where the annoyance begins- this is a 126-minute 96kHz|24bit DualDisc (one side is CD, other is DVD audio) and for some reason that I can't imagine, only the DVD side contains ALL three works in their entirety. So, "Janabar" on cd is only one of the five movents (!) the whole work only on the DVD side. What bothers me the most, is that the same is the case with "Talin" (a Concerto for Viola and Strings) which is one of Hovhaness's greatest achievements. Until this release, it was almost impossible to get hold of any documentation of "Talin" in it's original form (Viola). *I have posted earlier on, a version of Talin for Clarinet and Strings which you should check out. But it's just mot the same. Puzzling is that Talin is really considered one of the best works by an "American" composer yet it's been hidden away really like buried treasure beneath the ocean floor. Thus I find it crazy to finally have a first rate recording of it, where all three movements once again are *only* available on the DVD side(!)
****If anyone has ideas about how I can extract/import the DVD side PLEASE let me know; I have googled it, tried a couple things with NO results. I of course can play the whole thing on my mac or dvd player. But that sucks.
-So, enjoy the complete "Shambala" and the excerpts from "Talin" and Janabar".
Here's a few reviews:
The performance of the double concerto for violin, sitar and orchestra Shambala (1969) is the first of any kind. The work was commissioned by Mehuhin to play with Ravi Shankar but was never performed. Intensely Indian in spirit (unsurprisingly as Hovhaness was an Indian music scholar), Shambala (a mythical Himalayan realm) plays as a substantial, structurally freewheeling span for 45 minutes, with improvised passages for the sitar alternating with notated ones for the violin and dialogues between the two. It is played superbly here, ironically, by Shankar pupil Gaurav Mazumdar, partnered by Christina Fong, who plays in all three concertos on OgreOgress's DualDisc and has a long history of Hovhaness performances to her credit. --Guy Rickards, Gramophone, April 2009
Janabar means Journey. It is classic Hovhaness and very appealing. Janabar was the big discovery for me; it has become a favorite piece. I have known Talin since 1959, when I discovered the MGM recording with Emanuel Vardi. The only other recording I know of in all these years used the clarinet in place of the viola. I like the music enough not to mind too much, but I am really glad to have an excellent new recording on viola. I have always thought of it as a viola concerto. The soloist in the third work (Shambala) plays the sitar, so it sounds very Indian. If you like Indian classical music and the sound of the sitar, you are bound to like this long, rather diffuse work. --Don Vroon, American Record Guide, July/August 2008
What proves to be the most outstanding aspect of the release is the work called Janabar, or 'Five Hymns of Serenity.' Hovhaness enthusiasts who have become disillusioned by the shockingly high proportion of dross within the composer's output, especially during the last three decades of his life, have cause to rejoice. Talin … is revered among Hovhaness admirers as one of his most profoundly inspired works … Shambala is said to be the first orchestral work to incorporate the sitar, although the following year Shankar composed his own 'Concerto for Sitar and Orchestra,' which I heard at the time and recall as abysmally bad. --Walter Simmons, Fanfare, 2008