My father was very kind and surprised me with a few gifts today, all cds-and this new Hovhaness disc is one of them, which I had been dying to get anyhow. So, this something of a 'family' post :)
This is a recent (2015) recording that should be of much interest especially to die-hard Hovhaness fans as it contains the world premiere recording of the Symphony No. 48 "Vision of Andromeda". The magnificent "Prelude and Quadruple Fugue", easily (only imo!) the best work on this disc, which has been recorded several times before, while the Concerto for Soprano Saxophone here receives its second recording (the first modern recording is on the 2011 Boston Modern Orchestra Project disc). The Saxophone Concerto will be a delicacy for Saxophone enthusiasts I would imagine, and as the back cover notes mention-this is indeed the most romantic concerto that Hovhaness has penned-that has survived, I would personally add (as most of you will know, he destroyed a tremendous amount of early compositions, hypercritical as he was then. This was also equally fueled by nasty comments from some of the 'academics' of the time). As for the symphony I am listening to it for the second time as I type; my first hearing whilst driving earlier didn't impress me very much, although there are many signature AH gestures here that I always love (the brilliant counterpoint and fugal subjects, the grouped pizzicato strings, the mystical spaces created by employing bells-here played more rapidly than usual-and other metal percussion..) and find simply enchanting. To be fair, driving is quite the distraction, and while I had miles of open road, it is just not the ideal way to listen to a work for the first time. And a symphony no less.. So, I now plead guilty to making an unfocused and premature judgement. I am enjoying Opus 355 ten fold at this very moment, and although there is clearly a drop of melodic 'recycling' going on-at least the source is incredibly beautiful and from the man himself. Yes, I am now becoming quite blissfully lost in it all-a singing oboe and chiming bells like ice crystals flittering in a mysterious cosmos.