Sunday, June 26, 2016

Alan Hovhaness - Symphony No. 1, "Exile" - Song of the Sea for Piano & Strings - Armenian Rhapsodies Nos. 1, 2, & 3 - Concerto for Soprano Saxophone & Strings - Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Gil Rose - BMOP/sound, 2011

This is an important Hovhaness release, and an extremely well executed project by all concerned (top-notch performances, excellent booklet notes and artwork to treasure, thoughtful and high quality packaging and so on..). It is also quite special to me as it brings together (the exception being the inclusion of the oddball but enjoyable Concerto for Soprano Saxophone & Strings - Op. 344 - from 1980) some of Hovhaness's best early works - admittedly well-known and documented in the case of the sultry, splendidly modal and ethnic Armenian Rhapsodies which are based on actual Armenian material including dances and folk songs. As far as I am aware these are the *only* works from Hovhaness's massive output that are not original melodies. The Symphony No. 1 subtitled "Exile" is a tribute to the exile and murder of the Armenian people at the hands of the Ottoman Turks. This grand symphony with it's early exoticism (it does technically predate AH's actual "Armenian" period that comes to be a few years later - but then it was partially revised by the composer, perhaps a decade later, and once again in the 1970s. I confess I'm not sure of the actual dates or years) is exciting and fresh. I especially love its slow introduction, lithe and slithering with the sounds of a hypnotic harp, plucked strings and a melancholy, searching clarinet. The calm is only broken periodically by explosive brass fanfares - this volcanic energy returns in the epic powerful third movement finale. I almost forgot to mention the real curiosity here, which is "Song of the Sea" which AH penned in 1933 (at 22!). Yes Hovhaness composed even during his childhood but to have a work that dates from his twenties when he was really unsure of himself and the directions that he wanted to take - is something really special. The work is for piano & strings and it is simple and beautiful. The main theme from the first movement is (or should) be recognizable: Hovhaness later used it not only in a piano piece but of more significance is that it reappears in the third movement of the sublime Symphony No. 22 "City of Light".


When this disc was released I wasn't sure if I loved this performance of the Exile Symphony as I do the Schwarz account with the Seattle Symphony. The tempos are generally slower under Gil Rose, and altogether it's a difference of an extra 3.5 minutes I believe. Turns out it is a win/win. Both performances are indeed amazing I think - and not to be missed!


(some) of the album packaging:






I am including the superb booklet notes which include a priceless Hovhaness interview from 1981 with Charles Amirkhanian and Dennis Russel Davies.

Enjoy!!

Hovhaness_Exile_Symphony_Armenian_Rhapsodies_Etc.-Tzadik.zip

http://www42.zippyshare.com/v/XNh4JIUh/file.html

12 comments:

theblueamos said...

thank you very much.As always best wishes from Jerusalem.

Paul Terry said...

Thanks for this! Hovhaness is always welcome. He is one of my top ten favorite 20th century composers. Extremely prolific and there's always a touch of magic or mysticism in his music. Palpable magic embedded in the sound!

Marcelo Lasta said...

Graaaaaaaaaaaaaaacias por el MAR de Hovhaness,nunca lo escuche,abrazo de ballena franca austral,querido Tzadik.Tapirman,siempre suyo.

Toon van Dijk said...

Many thanks and regards from The Netherlands.
Veel dank en groeten uit Nederland.

Tzadik said...

Hi there Blue! As always you are most welcome :) I hope you get much pleasure from this fine AH disc.

Tz

Tzadik said...

Hi Paul, nice to hear from again! I cannot begin to count how many composers there are that I am fond of, or love. I will say however that when it comes down to it, Hovhaness is still my #1 favorite. Often I think that my adoration for his music is matched by others (composers such as Vaughan Williams, my dear friend the late American composer Arnold Rosner (who is a very close 2nd!!), Hindemith, Debussy, Palestrina etc. etc. etc.) but Hovhaness is a distinct experience for me. Rosner is as well, especially in an intense, emotionally charged way - like much of his music. Makes me feel alive.

I can definitely compile a top 10 - I think I have on here someplace. Who are the other 9 in yours?

Regards,

Tz

Tzadik said...

El doctor T, que nunca han escuchado este disco antes? Estoy muy feliz entonces para poder presentarle a ella de regalos :-) ¿Usted tiene la grabación de la Sinfonía Delos Exilio? Creo que lo publicado el año pasado. Además, ¿qué opinas de la temprana "Canción del Mar"?

Su hermano de poemas de música y poemas de la naturaleza,

Tzadik

Tzadik said...

Enjoy it maestro Toon :)

Tz

Marcelo Lasta said...

Opino que esa obra dedicada al Mar,luego de La Mer de Debussy y The sea of F.Bridge,es la más bella que he escuhado sobre paisajes marinos,una gema,por algo el mismo composer,reutilizó melodías para otros opus.Gracias por el Magnificat,ya lo conocia,como la versión de Sinfonia 1 en delos,una obra fundamental y sobretodo humanista,pues es un homenaje al sufrido pueblo armenio¡una obra que ningún otro composer antes habia dedicado al genocidio de ese pueblo,ni siquiera el gran Khachaturian!Es historia pure esta Sinfonía,con que anhelo espero escuchar algun día la Sinfonia final,la 67 de Hovahness,¡por Dios!¿cuando tendremos la dicha que alguna buena orquesta la grabe,querido Tzadik?Pondria $(modesta contribución)para una colecta global y llegar a la suma para grabar dicha obra,si!!!!!!Abrazos,querido amigo del Alma.

Paul Terry said...

Hi Tzadik.....
Hmmm Well this is my top 10 as of right now (As you know these things change):
1 Debussy
2) Ravel
3) Satie
4) Steve Reich
5) John Adams
6) Hovhaness
7) Phillip Glass
8) William Walton
9) Arvo Part
10) Leo Brouwer

I love all kinds of music. I often call myself a musical omnivoire, but the last 2 years I have been listening to almost exclusively Classical... (As time allows, that is!
Anyway thanks for carrying on with your great blog,
Peace
Paul

Tzadik said...

Paul that is a nice list. In some ways Leo Brouwer seems the odd man out here, although this is not really the case; Brouwer is simply so well known for his guitar works (and oh how I enjoy the Brouwer series that Naxos did years back!) that to see his name under Pärt makes for quite the contrast - of course if you had listed Rodrigo or De Falla above my reaction would have been a non-reaction; it's all rather arbitrary, huh? Satie is one of the most interesting composers of all time I think - his life as much as is music. And oh am I a 'musical omnivore' as well - I could easily run 20 entirely different music blogs (if I won the lottery or inherited money I'd do just that!).


I am not a huge fan of Reich, but do appreciate some of his work. Glass can irritate me like I cannot even tell you yet at the same time I love his string quartets (yes, some material is taken from his Operas and so on) and really like most of his works either for piano or transcribed for piano. The "Glass Works" disc of organ music is one of my favorite discs of organ music of all time. And then there are soundtracks like "Koyaanisqatsi" - it is simply a living, breathing part of Godfrey Reggio's brilliant film and for me one of Glass's finest works. From this "school" it is John Adams that I enjoy much more. His music has always been for me much more varied and interesting. I recall when Adam's Violin Concerto was first recorded - woweee talk about a knockout! Fun times :)

Best,

Tzadik

Tzadik said...

Estimado Dr. T,

Me parece que es un muy atractivo y bello trabajo también; es interesante también por el hecho de que era una obra de AH tan temprana - su voz musical ya está ahí el 100%, se puede sentir la majestuosidad y el misterio - Te digo sin música tiene un amor tangible para la humanidad y hermandad como Hovhaness! ! Me hubiera gustado que podría ser un proyecto de este tipo para conseguir la última sinfonía grabada - hay tantas causas por ahí y la recaudación de fondos para un compositor, tales como AH, gran artista de nuestro cosmos - podría ser parte de una comisión por una organización de la vida silvestre, o posiblemente parte de una campaña de recaudación de fondos, algo así como "música para la paz" - Dios sabe que necesitamos para luchar por la paz en este mundo violento más que nunca. Ni siquiera puedo imaginar lo que pensaría Hovhaness de nuestro mundo en este mismo momento - que falleció justo antes de que el terrorismo (por supuesto no había conflicto israelí / palestino en curso y de larga data) extendido a nivel mundial como el cáncer. Hay tanta fealdad por ahí creo que necesitamos tener todas las sinfonías AH reamining grabadas como un proyecto para la humanidad !!

su Tz