Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Alan Hovhaness - The Holy City - Triptych: Ave Maria - Christmas Cantata - Easter Cantata - Meditation on Orpheus - Henry Cowell - Music 1957 - Synchrony - Royal P.O., Bamberg S.O., Japan P.O., Polish N.R.O. Citadel Records 1997

The only thing to do after posting one of the finest Hovhaness recordings out there is to post another equally fine Hovhaness recording with some splendiferous Henry Cowell thrown in to sweeten the already irresistible deal :) These works originate from several CRI recordings as well as one Bay Cities recording. The 20-bit digital transfers done by Bruce Leek for Citadel Records and Klavier Records (the subsidiary of Citadel) are uniformly excellent in my experience and it is the shining case here. These are all exemplary performances, and the only works here that have multiple recordings are AH's "The Holy City" and "Meditation on Orpheus" and these versions of those two works are I believe the finest to this date. 

I'm too tired to write about the music tonight so if you will excuse me I will do so tomorrow once awake and with coffee in hand. Or near hand. Probably safer that way.

Hovhaness with his wife Serafina, I believe in 1947

Hovhaness conducting his "Fuji" Cantata

Cowell thrashin those keys - Piano, meet tone-clusters. Tone-clusters, meet piano.......

Henry Cowell at the Brooklyn Museum

Enjoy quality sounds ladies and gentlemen!



Alan Hovhaness - Symphony No. 25 "Odysseus" Symphony No. 6 "Celestial Gate" - Prayer of Saint Gregory - Polyphonia Orchestra of London, Alan Hovhaness - Crystal Records 1993

This Crystal disc includes two of my favorite (along with Vishnu, Mysterious Mountain, Star Dawn, Etchmaidzin and others)  Hovhaness symphonies. Symphony No. 6 (Celestial Gate) is undeniably and without a doubt - one of his most beautiful creations. The Symphony No. 25 (Odysseus) is a much lesser known symphony and structurally speaking it is full of exciting unpredictability; indeed, it's one of the more esoteric, odd-ball symphonies like the great "Vishnu" Symphony No. 19 and it's of the strongest appeal for me. "Odysseus" reminds me not of any other Hovhaness symphony. Ok, It does have some of the wandering, sense-misura passages not unlike Vishnu but that's about it, and it's to a much lesser extent.

One of many sections that really "does it" for me is in the second movement, AH has described it as storm music. The 'tempest' for me starts at 5'29 (this wild tension and energy is finally released around the 10'20 mark) with the sudden steep ascent in the strings and glissando from the timpani, followed immediately by a declamation from a single horn - this leads directly to rising and falling strings that suddenly surge forth canonically - the violins here lunge violently (oh how I love this!!), like a pack of vicious beasts closing in - I can also easily imagine this to be multiple lightning strikes piercing the dark skies during this tempestuous battle. The drums sustain the thunderous procession and the entire orchestra rises up volcanically - especially the brass - only to be silenced, albeit briefly, once again by the lunging of the "beasts". This continues once more with swirling crescendi until finally the storms and oceans fail to overwhelm. Glorious and triumphal music follows
however by this point I want to go back to the first rumblings at 5'29 :)

Symphony No. 6 (Celestial Gate) blew me away from the very first hearing years ago. It is simply one of the most beautiful pieces of music that I have ever heard. Ok time to confess. Although this recording has Hovhaness conducting all three of his masterpieces here - I actually prefer the superb Telarc disc with Rudolf Werthen conducting The Orchestra of Flanders. "Celestial Gate" is imo no where more transportive than here (well, there) and frankly I prefer the tempi that Werthen employs over the composer's (I know it's blasphemy). The tempo does not always differ all that much, and certainly the Polyphonia Orchestra are sublime. The mastering on this Crystal Records disc is very fine although Telarc's 20-bit sound (and this was only 1995) cannot be beat. The entire all-Hovhaness program is magnificent on the Telarc although clearly this Crystal recording is the more important of the two with AH conducting two of his best symphonies. The "Prayer of Saint Gregory" which is surely one of AH's best known pieces is played here by the maestro himself a tad faster than most other readings, which is interesting to me as I always hear this "prayer in the dark" has Hovhaness put it, unfolding slower - even in my mind. "Prayer of Saint Gregory" it really too gorgeous for words and I have said it before and will so again: this might be the best 4+ minutes one can experience at anyplace or anytime. 

There is also a third recording of AH's Symphony No. 6 on Koch with the Manhattan Chamber Orchestra conducted by Richard Auldon Clark. I'm pretty sure I posted it last year.

I know it's been shared before but the Telarc disc I will have to post as well, it's too good not to have.
Plus this way I get a reprieve - I have many thoughts about Symphony No. 6 "Celestial Gate" and now they shall wait :) 

Here are Hohvaness's notes on this delight of a recording:

Enjoy the magnificence!!



Monday, March 28, 2016

Alan Hovhaness - Seven Love Songs of Saris for Violin and Piano, Opus 252c- Christina Fong, Violin - Paul Hersey, Piano - OgreOgress 2012

Hello everyone. Yes, it is me. Once again I simply must express my gratitude; It didn't take long after the inception of this blog for me to realize that I was fortunate to have many a wonderful visitors stopping in. Now more than ever your support is so very solicitous and so very generous. And needless to say - extremely welcome. Things continue to be (oh, the existentialism!!) and I am trying to get back in the swing of things. Speaking of swinging...surely I will not be found in a park or under a tree doing that any time soon (I do have a young daughter after all!); my rotator cuff on the left side decided it was time to tear last Thursday (last year it was the right side).  I might as well have been expecting it at this point. Perhaps I'm a baseball player or wrestler and I do not know it?

Get on with it you say? ;-)

This is something of an unintentional tease I suppose; my first post in over a month and it's a work that lasts only about 8 minutes. As far as teenie-tiny releases goes it is beautiful one at least! Vivian Fong performs this Hovhaness world premiere sinuously and devotedly - her playing is as always perfection. Paul Hersey's pianism is luminous, and like Fong he is no stranger to AH's music; and like Fong he has lent his fingers to almost all of the sublime OgreOgress Hovhaness discs. This is lovely, delicate music and classic AH sound terrain in the very best sense.

When I bought this it included several formats, so I am posting the flac files as the main download and then also the mp3 @ 320 for those who prefer. Really it's just a 20 mb size difference. 

"Seven Love Songs of Saris" for Violin and Piano, Opus 252c

I. Andante
II. Allegretto
III. Allegro moderato
IV. Adagio
V. Andante
VI. Allegro
VII. Lento

Tomorrow I (truly) will be posting more, I am stuck at home resting on doctor's orders. And should you find yourself in a Hovhaness state of mind - tomorrow's 'programme' will be agreeable ;)


Flac: (40 mb)



320 mp3:



Wednesday, March 23, 2016


I'd like to thank you, dear visitors, for taking the time to leave such genuinely warm wishes and kind thoughts clearly from the heart. Truly I am touched. It means so much to me, and especially during such dreadful times. 

This is the first time that I have stopped by to check the blog since the day I last posted. I think it's just 2 days shy of a month already. 

One week after the flood, my apartment still in a Hurricane Sandy state, I learned of an illness in my
immediate family that has left me devastated. I have been walking about in a surreal, zombie-like state and it's been quite debilitating; I took off several days of work due to "nerves" as I am more than
a bit fragile when it comes to my oft extreme anxiety. Ever since I have been sleeping, going to work and sleeping again exclusively. Mostly it's trying to sleep without much success. Working has been such a strain I that I am surprised that I have been able to pull it off. Thank goodness I have!  

My passion for great music (and indeed the sharing of) has been a life raft more times than I can count - when I factor in the kind support from you, fellow musical explorers - with your insatiable appetite for delighting in discovery (like me!!!) that makes the spirit dance - it helps me to shed some of the darkness and find hope. Right now I am hopeful, and I am attaining at least some acceptance of my family's current situation. The possibility of remission does exist and that's what keeps me going; it's the vista I am creating, seeing....instead of Mt. Rushmore blocking out the sun I see Arcadian gardens before me - equally as powerful in their beauty.

I am planning to post again this week. I'd like to say starting tonight but I will see how the day goes.

Thank you once again everyone - let's keep the aural traveling alive no matter what.