Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?

Started by Kullervo, July 02, 2007, 08:40:46 AM

Previous topic - Next topic

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Kullervo

As someone who worships Sibelius, and as someone whose curiosity is drawn to composers who seem to be dismissed by the classical music intelligentsia at large, I've been curious about Hovhaness, sometimes called the "American Sibelius"... but I have no idea where to begin with his massive oeuvre. I suppose I could start with his only famous work, the "Mysterious Mountain" symphony, but I'd like to know if there is a better introduction.

Any ideas?

Harry

#1
In my opinion you can begin anywere with Hovhaness. I myself got into this composer by simply buying the Naxos cd's, and since then I am hooked. The one with the celloconcerto on it is a devastating introduction. If you like that, you will love all.
He has a enormous output, yes, but not that many recordings, in fact compared to his works, almost nothing.

71 dB

Quote from: Harry on July 02, 2007, 08:54:39 AM
In my opinion you can begin anywere with Hovhaness.

I think the same way. I have 2 Telarc discs of his orchestral works and music for harp.
Spatial distortion is a serious problem deteriorating headphone listening.
Crossfeeders reduce spatial distortion and make the sound more natural
and less tiresome in headphone listening.

My Sound Cloud page <-- NEW track "Jazzz"

MishaK

I don't agree that you can begin anywhere with Hovhaness, unless you are very undemanding. Hovhannes produced an unbelievable amount of music, much of which repeats earlier efforts or is just not as well thought out as some of his other work. I once had a harp music album of Hovhannes which was pure new-agey kitsch. If you just jump in somewhere, it will all start sounding a bit repetitive and indistinct after a while. I would start with "Mysterious Mountain" which is his most famous work for good reason. The Reiner/CSO premiere recording is hard to beat. I agree with Harry about the Cello Concerto on Naxos. It's a unique, unusually bleak work for Hovhaness, performed on that CD superbly by Janos Starker and the Seattle SO in absolutely stellar form under the direction of Gerard Schwartz. It's coupled by City of Light which is also worthwhile.

Grazioso

#4


Hovhaness Collection Vol. 2 on Delos, with the awe-inspiring Mount St. Helens symphony--who says Hovhaness is soft and wishy-washy? :) This 2-CD set also includes the relatively well-known Mysterious Mountain symphony, which is a lesser work, imo.



Features the beautiful Celestial Gate symphony, with one of most memorable melodies.


There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact. --Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

karlhenning

There's some Hovhaness I like very well;  but I cannot help feeling that "the American Sibelius" is seriously overselling him.

Harry

Quote from: karlhenning on July 02, 2007, 09:14:24 AM
There's some Hovhaness I like very well;  but I cannot help feeling that "the American Sibelius" is seriously overselling him.

I am uncritical in the matter of music, I simply love all of Hovhaness works, and there is nothing kitsch about them IMO, and I know of no weak works he produced. But all the experts, on this forum reduce me to a minimal form, and that's oke by me, that way I can buy all the music I like whether you think it good or bad.
I am a bad buyer! ;D
Food for my enemies I guess. :o

71 dB

Quote from: Harry on July 02, 2007, 09:24:07 AM
I am uncritical in the matter of music, I simply love all of Hovhaness works, and there is nothing kitsch about them IMO, and I know of no weak works he produced. But all the experts, on this forum reduce me to a minimal form, and that's oke by me, that way I can buy all the music I like whether you think it good or bad.
I am a bad buyer! ;D
Food for my enemies I guess. :o

Just ignore them Harry.  ;) I think the same way as you, I haven't heard weak or "new-agey" music from him yet (and I even like new age!). Some people just can't accept composers like Dittersdorf or Hovhaness could be very good.

I must get the cello concerto CD on Naxos! Damn!  :P
Spatial distortion is a serious problem deteriorating headphone listening.
Crossfeeders reduce spatial distortion and make the sound more natural
and less tiresome in headphone listening.

My Sound Cloud page <-- NEW track "Jazzz"

karlhenning

Quote from: Harry on July 02, 2007, 09:24:07 AM
I am uncritical in the matter of music, I simply love all of Hovhaness works, and there is nothing kitsch about them IMO, and I know of no weak works he produced. But all the experts, on this forum reduce me to a minimal form, and that's oke by me, that way I can buy all the music I like whether you think it good or bad.
I am a bad buyer! ;D
Food for my enemies I guess. :o

Hmm;  I'm not sure how my post occasioned that response, Harry8)

But, briefly:

1. I did not use the word kitsch of Hovhaness
2. Everything of his that I have heard is certainly likeable
3. That is all I will say at present  0:)

Quote from: 71 dB on July 02, 2007, 09:33:03 AM
I think the same way as you

Oh, there's something for you to worry about, Harry, if you like  ;D

Harry

#9
Quote from: karlhenning on July 02, 2007, 09:34:33 AM
Hmm;  I'm not sure how my post occasioned that response, Harry8)

But, briefly:

1. I did not use the word kitsch of Hovhaness
2. Everything of his that I have heard is certainly likeable
3. That is all I will say at present  0:)

Oh, there's something for you to worry about, Harry, if you like  ;D

Karl, it was in jest I wrote that, I am currently filled with a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon! ;D
No arrows directed your way, I simply juggled all responses together.

Harry

Quote from: 71 dB on July 02, 2007, 09:33:03 AM
Just ignore them Harry.  ;) I think the same way as you, I haven't heard weak or "new-agey" music from him yet (and I even like new age!). Some people just can't accept composers like Dittersdorf or Hovhaness could be very good.

I must get the cello concerto CD on Naxos! Damn!  :P

You will not regret the cello concerto my friend, and thank you for your support!
We stand alone.

71 dB

Quote from: Harry on July 02, 2007, 09:45:48 AM
You will not regret the cello concerto my friend, and thank you for your support!
We stand alone.

I am sure I won't regret. I spend my July budget on the big jpc.de order so Hovhaness must wait.

No problem Harry.  ;)
Spatial distortion is a serious problem deteriorating headphone listening.
Crossfeeders reduce spatial distortion and make the sound more natural
and less tiresome in headphone listening.

My Sound Cloud page <-- NEW track "Jazzz"

Kullervo

Quote from: karlhenning on July 02, 2007, 09:14:24 AM
There's some Hovhaness I like very well;  but I cannot help feeling that "the American Sibelius" is seriously overselling him.

Well, I think it is a bit silly to call any composer, "The [nation of origin] [great composer]" as it denigrates both parties involved, but the epithet certainly piqued my curiosity.

tjguitar

I only have one Hovhaness. it's alright.  Not my favorite.  But still good.



techniquest

You must give Hovhaness a try. My introduction to his music was many years ago - the old Unicorn vinyl recording of the 11th Symphony ('All Men are Brothers') coupled with what I consider to be one of the finest single-movement works ever - 'Fra Angelico'. I have yet to buy these pieces on CD, but I still have the LP in excellent condition to enjoy.
In short, Hovhaness music does not sound 'American', it has many influences from both eastern Europe and eastern Asia but definitely a unique sound that could not be any other composer.

MishaK

Quote from: techniquest on July 02, 2007, 11:23:59 AM
In short, Hovhaness music does not sound 'American', it has many influences from both eastern Europe and eastern Asia but definitely a unique sound that could not be any other composer.

That is very true. His best stuff is when he gets funky with Armenian harmonies.

SonicMan46

Quote from: Grazioso on July 02, 2007, 09:07:56 AM
 

Hovhaness Collection Vol. 2 on Delos, with the awe-inspiring Mount St. Helens symphony--who says Hovhaness is soft and wishy-washy? :) This 2-CD set also includes the relatively well-known Mysterious Mountain symphony, which is a lesser work, imo.


Agree that the Delos Vol. 2 set is a good value start for Hovhaness - in fact, all that I currently own of this composer - I was looking to purchase the first 2-CD volume from Delos (added above to the quoted post), but apparently it is OOP!  :(  At any rate, I was anxious to get into this thread & look forward to more comments & recommendations -  :)

vandermolen

My Hovhaness recommendations.

Mount St Helens Symphony (No 50) Delos recording is best.

Exile Symphony (No 1)

"All Men are Brothers" (Symphony 11)

Odysseus Symphony

Meditations on Orpheus

Cello Concerto

Celestial Gate Symphony

St Vartan Symphony
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

david johnson

i've performed 'prayer of st. gregory' several times.  it makes a good impact on audiences.
i really like it.
i recall 'khaldis' as being fun, but i've not heard it in years.
'mysterious mountain' w/reiner/cso is my favorite recording of that piece.

dj

vandermolen

Quote from: david johnson on July 03, 2007, 09:18:05 AM
i've performed 'prayer of st. gregory' several times.  it makes a good impact on audiences.
i really like it.
i recall 'khaldis' as being fun, but i've not heard it in years.
'mysterious mountain' w/reiner/cso is my favorite recording of that piece.

dj

I agree, especially about the Reiner recording of "Mysterious Mountain", an enjoyable work clearly influenced by the Tallis Fantasia of Vaughan Williams.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).