Author Topic: Ohana's Observatory  (Read 2362 times)

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Offline EigenUser

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Ohana's Observatory
« on: June 15, 2014, 04:08:56 PM »
Ugh ::), I used up my "O" idea with "Ockeghem's Office", so I had to think of another word. Observatory it is.

Maurice Ohana (1913-1992) is an interesting figure in music as far as nationality is concerned -- he was born in Casablanca of British/Jewish/Spanish descent and lived most of his life in France. He was trained (or at least partially-trained, I'm not sure) as an Architect, so he has at least one thing in common with Xenakis. I don't think he designed any buildings, though.

As of now I've heard his cello concerto entitled "In Dark and Blue", his piano concerto, and part of "T'Harân-Ngô" (I liked what I heard). The cello concerto is really an outstanding work that Gershwin fans might want to check out (I'm not just talking about the title involving "blue" -- much of the piece is heavily influenced by jazz). The piano concerto isn't as "laid-back", but I think I'll come to like it as much. Very similar harmonies in the two works.

Are there any fans of Ohana here?
« Last Edit: June 16, 2014, 07:26:41 AM by EigenUser »
Beethoven's Op. 133 -- A fugue so bad that even Beethoven himself called it "Grosse".

Offline Jeffrey Smith

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Re: Maurice Ohana's Observatory
« Reply #1 on: June 15, 2014, 08:08:32 PM »
My experience of Ohana consists of one clip from YouTube posted in the 20th century thread by Sanantonio and one piece included in the Percussions de Strasbourg set. 
I liked what I heard,  and intend to explore him,  but not just now.   Too many big boxes in the Pile and not enough dollars in the checking account.

Offline amw

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Re: Maurice Ohana's Observatory
« Reply #2 on: June 15, 2014, 10:59:39 PM »
Ohana's music on the surface bears some similarities with that of Dutilleux and Xenakis, but is pretty individual, I think (particularly in its relationship to traditional music, incorporation of microtonality and close attention paid to timbres). A couple of the pieces I've enjoyed most:

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/S6yygWVC_dU" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/S6yygWVC_dU</a>
<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/Ngtop5sc09Q&amp;list=PL9wnX-fT2pdWtIyaG7K2y46VAXWtw2J8h" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/Ngtop5sc09Q&amp;list=PL9wnX-fT2pdWtIyaG7K2y46VAXWtw2J8h</a>
<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/zfwTEnW3Zho" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/zfwTEnW3Zho</a>
<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/rUcdOgyLJ_8" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/rUcdOgyLJ_8</a>

Offline escher

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Re: Maurice Ohana's Observatory
« Reply #3 on: June 16, 2014, 12:29:00 AM »
I love Ohana's music. I'm a bit baffled by the comparison with Xenakis, I would mention instead Scelsi for a ritual quality and their obsession with a mysterious past and the exoticism of their music (and titles too), altough the music of Ohana has a "mediterrean flavour", due to his influences (Debussy, De Falla, flamenco, but also the african music). There's also a similar stasis.
I see some similarities also with Messiaen and Stravinsky, but ultimately he was certainly a very original composer, who did very interesting thing for the voice, the guitar, percussions and the harpsichord.
Two of my favorite works of him are the Syllabaire pour Phedre and Cantigas.

Offline EigenUser

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Re: Maurice Ohana's Observatory
« Reply #4 on: June 16, 2014, 01:27:07 AM »
My experience of Ohana consists of one clip from YouTube posted in the 20th century thread by Sanantonio and one piece included in the Percussions de Strasbourg set. 
I liked what I heard,  and intend to explore him,  but not just now.   Too many big boxes in the Pile and not enough dollars in the checking account.
Yes, that must have been the cello concerto. That clip was my first Ohana (lol, sounds like a product for babies -- "My First Ohana" :laugh:. Put that with Ken's "Ligeti for the Nursery").

Glad to see some nice responses! I was sure that this thread was going to be like dropping lead in water.
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Offline amw

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Re: Maurice Ohana's Observatory
« Reply #5 on: June 16, 2014, 01:32:36 AM »
I love Ohana's music. I'm a bit baffled by the comparison with Xenakis, I would mention instead Scelsi for a ritual quality and their obsession with a mysterious past and the exoticism of their music (and titles too), altough the music of Ohana has a "mediterrean flavour", due to his influences (Debussy, De Falla, flamenco, but also the african music). There's also a similar stasis.

I was thinking especially of the later works of Xenakis which have a similar ritual/theatrical quality but you're probably right, Scelsi would be a more helpful comparison. Ohana's music tends to be more "directional" than Scelsi's, I think.

Still getting to know the percussion & guitar works, but am intrigued. Definitely an underrated composer.

Offline snyprrr

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Re: Maurice Ohana's Observatory
« Reply #6 on: June 16, 2014, 07:19:42 AM »
Take the 'Maurice' out (Modify) for better ThreadTitle sizzle.


I have yet to make it to either the Erato Cycle or the Timpani Cycle, both of which overlap horrendously. I'd go for either label's 'Tamarit'(?) cd (both labels have 2/3 of the same programme)- 'Synaxis'(?)- or just the whole Erato Box.

I have the String Quartets, which exude a hazy tropical feeling,... Northern Africa,... Dutilleux... very tight,... almost sounds like he composed them on guitar... (he's known for guitar)...

...and that percussion piece...
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Offline EigenUser

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Re: Maurice Ohana's Observatory
« Reply #7 on: June 16, 2014, 07:28:15 AM »
Take the 'Maurice' out (Modify) for better ThreadTitle sizzle.


I have yet to make it to either the Erato Cycle or the Timpani Cycle, both of which overlap horrendously. I'd go for either label's 'Tamarit'(?) cd (both labels have 2/3 of the same programme)- 'Synaxis'(?)- or just the whole Erato Box.

I have the String Quartets, which exude a hazy tropical feeling,... Northern Africa,... Dutilleux... very tight,... almost sounds like he composed them on guitar... (he's known for guitar)...

...and that percussion piece...
Done! You seem to care about the titles even more than I do (and I saw what you originally tried to call the Nyman thread :laugh: :laugh:).

I'll have to check out the SQs -- that hazy tropical feeling sounds intriguing.
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Offline snyprrr

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Re: Maurice Ohana's Observatory
« Reply #8 on: June 16, 2014, 11:36:28 AM »
I'll have to check out the SQs -- that hazy tropical feeling sounds intriguing.

Oh- they're "spiky" too! moroccan bartok with a little secular messiaen??
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Offline EigenUser

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Re: Maurice Ohana's Observatory
« Reply #9 on: June 16, 2014, 11:51:51 AM »
Oh- they're "spiky" too! moroccan bartok with a little secular messiaen??
...brushed with a white wine sauce and served with fresh seasonal vegetables? Seriously, you are making me hungry!

I was shocked to see that the music store had the score to Ohana's PC. Got it for about $6 (80% off!). His notation is really confusing to read, though. I hadn't ever seen it before. For one, it's a facsimile of a manuscript and the noteheads are the size of fruit-flies ???. Then, there are all of these weird diamond note-heads. Usually composers give an indication of what these are when they show up (they can mean different things), but I can't find one as of yet. This is among many other weird things in the score.

EDIT: Here is the first page of the score, where the piano plays the quiet chord-clusters.


Does anyone here who plays piano know what the little plus signs are above the notes? It's even more confusing because I can't tell if the lines above each notes are contrasting "minus" signs or just regular tenutos :laugh:. I assume the diamond-shaped notes means just to hold down the piano key(s) without sounding them (as is usually the case), but composers usually write the meaning in the music and then write "simile", or something like that.

He had nice handwriting! Reminds me of my own -- very tiny, but neat.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2014, 01:50:17 AM by EigenUser »
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Offline EigenUser

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Re: Ohana's Observatory
« Reply #10 on: August 04, 2014, 01:46:20 AM »
I just got this album two days ago and highly recommend it. It includes the Livre des Prodiges (something like "Book of Wonders"), Anneau de Tamarit (the first cello concerto), and Synaxis for two pianos, four percussionists, and orchestra. I especially like the Livre des Prodiges, though I really like the other two works as well.



I also heard the the first two SQs on Spotify yesterday. I liked them for SQs, but I'm not a big fan of that genre (aside from a few works). I didn't quite get the "tropical, hazy feel" claimed by snyprrr, but I think his description of "Moroccan Bartok with a little secular Messiaen" is spot-on. Is anyone familiar with his solo piano output? Did he write any piano works similar in style to the CC2 "D&B" and the PC, or LdP? I'd be interested in learning one of his works if there is something that falls under the category of the above style and also "easy enough" (maybe the difficulty level of Bartok piano sonata Sz. 80, but no higher).

I bet John (MirrorImage) would like his music. Maybe I'll stop by the non-classical listening thread and pay him a visit. I'd be interested in knowing his thoughts.
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Offline snyprrr

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Re: Ohana's Observatory
« Reply #11 on: August 04, 2014, 06:32:34 AM »
I just got this album two days ago and highly recommend it. It includes the Livre des Prodiges (something like "Book of Wonders"), Anneau de Tamarit (the first cello concerto), and Synaxis for two pianos, four percussionists, and orchestra. I especially like the Livre des Prodiges, though I really like the other two works as well.



I also heard the the first two SQs on Spotify yesterday. I liked them for SQs, but I'm not a big fan of that genre (aside from a few works). I didn't quite get the "tropical, hazy feel" claimed by snyprrr, but I think his description of "Moroccan Bartok with a little secular Messiaen" is spot-on. Is anyone familiar with his solo piano output? Did he write any piano works similar in style to the CC2 "D&B" and the PC, or LdP? I'd be interested in learning one of his works if there is something that falls under the category of the above style and also "easy enough" (maybe the difficulty level of Bartok piano sonata Sz. 80, but no higher).

I bet John (MirrorImage) would like his music. Maybe I'll stop by the non-classical listening thread and pay him a visit. I'd be interested in knowing his thoughts.

Timpani and Erato both have almost the same pieces on their respe ctive Cycles. The one you got (or the Erato equivalent) has always been the one I would have gotten first. But I still leave him on the back burner... hmm... maybe soon...

(yea, I preferred his orchestral to the SQs)
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Offline EigenUser

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Re: Ohana's Observatory
« Reply #12 on: August 04, 2014, 07:01:22 AM »
Timpani and Erato both have almost the same pieces on their respe ctive Cycles. The one you got (or the Erato equivalent) has always been the one I would have gotten first. But I still leave him on the back burner... hmm... maybe soon...

(yea, I preferred his orchestral to the SQs)
This is the one you should get first. It has In Dark and Blue, the PC, and an orchestral work called T'Haran-ngo. The latter does actually remind me a little bit of Xenakis, but not nearly as savage. The ID&B and the PC don't remind me of Xenakis in the least.

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Offline lescamil

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Re: Maurice Ohana's Observatory
« Reply #13 on: August 04, 2014, 07:28:22 AM »
Does anyone here who plays piano know what the little plus signs are above the notes?

The plus signs, along with the accompanying brackets, are diatonic cluster chord notation (either all white or all black). Chromatic ones are noted with an asterisk and bracket. These aren't specified in the piano concerto, for some reason, but they are in his other piano works, and he is consistent with his notation. "Minus signs" are just tenuto.
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Offline EigenUser

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Re: Maurice Ohana's Observatory
« Reply #14 on: August 04, 2014, 07:54:49 AM »
The plus signs, along with the accompanying brackets, are diatonic cluster chord notation (either all white or all black). Chromatic ones are noted with an asterisk and bracket. These aren't specified in the piano concerto, for some reason, but they are in his other piano works, and he is consistent with his notation. "Minus signs" are just tenuto.
Thank you so much! I was trying to play the opening (for fun) and it wasn't quite sounding like the recording. That must be why!
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Offline lescamil

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Re: Ohana's Observatory
« Reply #15 on: August 04, 2014, 08:18:15 PM »
Here are the opening notes from the first book of etudes for reference:

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Offline EigenUser

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Re: Ohana's Observatory
« Reply #16 on: August 05, 2014, 03:38:38 AM »
Here are the opening notes from the first book of etudes for reference:


Thanks for uploading this! When I get the chance I will print this out and tape it to the score.

Out of curiosity, how difficult are his piano works? Are there some easier ones? I know he was a concert pianist, so I assume that they are very difficult. The PC looks extremely difficult.
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Offline lescamil

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Re: Ohana's Observatory
« Reply #17 on: August 05, 2014, 08:05:43 AM »
The piano works are quite difficult. I have scores for the etudes, preludes, and a few odds and ends, and it's consistently challenging music written by someone that clearly knew his way around the instrument. There are some more doable preludes, from what I've seen, but I've only skimmed them.
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Offline EigenUser

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Re: Ohana's Observatory
« Reply #18 on: October 02, 2014, 12:17:14 AM »
I've been listening to a lot of Ohana recently -- more than usual. Any recommendations for solo piano works? What would be most similar to, say, his PC?

There's also a biography on Ohana that looks nicely done. The library at my university had it, which is nice.
http://www.amazon.com/The-Music-Maurice-Ohana-Caroline/dp/0754602885/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1412237709&sr=8-2&keywords=maurice+ohana

I'd really like more information on the conception of his 2nd cello concerto In Dark and Blue and also the PC. Sadly, there is little out there (even in the biography).
« Last Edit: October 02, 2014, 12:18:45 AM by EigenUser »
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"The Secrets of Maurice Ohana Settled Once and for All"
« Reply #19 on: December 18, 2016, 08:28:22 PM »
Alright, kiddies, gather 'round. Let the Quik n EZ Ohana Tutorial begin. From the bottom up:

A. PIANO MUSIC

some few early pieces
     24 Preludes
     12 Etudes.................For now, we can put these in a Jolivet-Messiaen-Dutilleux bubble. Only for Piano Freaks.
Tango


B. COMPLETE CHAMBER MUSIC

That's what the Timpani disc says. Some solo flute, some oboe, two cello/piano works, and one small chamber work. Nothing here works for me. A great disc to skip!



C. GUITAR MUSIC

There's the main 'Tiento' that figures on Bream, Yepes, and Brouwer recitals. Then there are about three other main works that all fit on one recital disc, and there are a few, all with the same basic programme. Ohana may be known as a guitarist's Composer, but his stuff does nothing for me.  Next...



D. HARPSICHORD MUSIC+

Elizabeth Chojnacka recorded Ohana's output twice, once for Erato, and once for Timpani ('Complete'). Out of everything so far far, this would be the first I would recommend. Now, it is by no means the first stop on the Ohana train, probably the last, but, there are works here that show his "mystery"... that thing that everyone's always attributing to him... elusive it is!



E. 2PIANO MUSIC

There is only one piece, 'Soron-Ngo', on a Naxos disc, with Mache. I mention it as I go to the SQs, because SQ3 is called 'Sorgin-Ngo'. Both are about 23mins., in one movement, and probably best represent all of Ohana's Chamber Music. The two pianos offer more coloure than his solo Piano Music, but, this is not Impressionistic, unless you say that the colors are just that much more strikingly "Southern". Ohana is the ONLY Composer who evokes "North Africa-Spain-Blue Green Water-Urban Tropical Hazy Blues" like he does perfectly in these two pieces.


F. 3 STRING QUARTETS

The notes don't reveal dates, but I believe the first SQ, 'Sequences', dates from the early '60s (originally five movements, the middle one discarded), and the 2nd from around 1977. Perhaps the 3rd comes from 1988?

I got this during my SQMania years back. I might have been prompted by the Arditti Rep Page? I dunno, probably. So, one's first response is... French, Dutilleux+Messiaen+Debussy, maybe Jolivet, Milhaud's Brazilianismo type tropical climate, North Africa, Corsica, Tripoli, Dali, hot sun, open sea, sand, coconuts, Xenakis in a Speedo? haha

The first is a little overt, early '60s, not TotalSerialist, obviously French and brash, not all that seductive, but not ugly/noisy- the concluding 'Hymne' is loud and discordant in the anrgy French way- Dutilleux's SQ from 1961 might sound just like this?

No.2 makes a more cohesive reboot of the same basic moods: 'Sagittaire', 'Mood', 'Alborada', 'Faran-Ngo'. The tropical hallucination feeling is strong here.

No. 3, 'Sorgin-Ngo', is probably Ohana's most major Chamber Work. It begins where No.2 left off (not literally). The whole mood hear is as a tropical fever dream, ever shifting colors, yet always feeling the thick hot evening air and the ocean breeze. It's not "mellow", but ...mmm... like how Messiaen-ish type stuff can be meditative and crystalline at the same time. But, Ohana is Southern.

This CD is at the top of the Amazon Ohana que. I'd go Orchestral first. Pick up the SQ and 2Piano at the same time.


That concludes all the Chamber Music proper.


Basically, that leaves us with the Erato Box, and the Timpani Cycle, along with the 'Avoaha' disc. Here's the EZ way:



G. VOCAL MUSIC

Get the Erato Box.



H. ORCHESTRAL MUSIC & CONCERTOS

Get the three Timpani discs. The Erato discs easily succumb to Timpani's superior...ness ::). Here's what we got, and, they're somewhat in order, though I think the first two are almost tied, but very complementary. Go:

1) 'In Dark & Deep Blue'(?) Cello Concerto No.2
     PIANO CONCERTO
     ^^^^^-Ngo (Orchestral Music)

The cello concerto is pretty sweet and... "blusey" (in Ohana's way, not ours), BUUUT- the Piano Concerto may be one of my ALL TIME FAVS- it's very "physical", very probing of timbres, much in the lowest register, all somewhat not quite sotto voce, very deep mood of Ohana's "desert sun, blue green waters"- the thing he does that's so him. Also, the "ngo" piece also reveals geckos sunning on hot rocks, splotches of earthy and lime yellow coconuts and Xenakisy.

TIED WITH NEXT RELEASE


2) 'Tombeau de Claude Debussy'
    'Silencaire'
    'Chiffres de Clavecin'

This is my Premiere Ohana Recommendation. 'Silencaire' DOES sound like Xenakis, yes it does folks, buuut, it's all Ohana's type of "melting" glisses of Daliesqueness string with Ohana percussion. You can hear it on YT, check out Xenakisers!!

Both of the other two pieces have a wealth of much curious sounds going on, not least is the effect of ring modulation, I guess done by the orchestra sans help. This, and the disc above, make the very best impression for Ohana. Now, some may actually like the next one better,...


3) 'Livres des Prodigies'
     'Anneas du Tamarit' Cello Concerto No.1
     'Synaxis' Concerto for 2Pianos, Percussion, and Orchestra

'Livres...' seems to be the piece everyone points to, but I seemed to hear the same thing I didn't like in the Nunes piece on Erato, 'Musick der fruhe'. The two share a same feeling here. But, maybe I'll hear it again.

'Synaxis' is very Xenakis lite, but, really, it's a hot little number. More of that ring modulation sound that sounds like an "opposite" ondes. ???? The cello work comes out for me as one of his most perfectly moody works- moody in the hot sun under the shade by the water.

Hiere's why his Chamber Music seemed to lack- he needs mucho colores to work with. Solo oboe can't get Burnt Sienna.







So

A)Vocal fans, get the Erato Box+'Avoaha'/'Lys...'

B) Avant fans, get any of the 3 Timpani Orchestral/Concerto discs ('Tombeau' snyprrr'sChoice, along with Piano Concerto), the Timpani harpsichord recital, and the String Quartets and the Naxos 2Pianos.

4 Timpani set (minus 'Complete Chamber Music') + 3 String Quartets + Naxos 2Pianos... 1,2,3... EZ az Pi
« Last Edit: December 18, 2016, 08:38:45 PM by snyprrr »
Rat Poison is 99% Good Food, so Follow the Money

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