GMG Classical Music Forum

The Music Room => Composer Discussion => Topic started by: Kullervo on July 02, 2007, 07:40:46 AM

Title: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Kullervo on July 02, 2007, 07:40:46 AM
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?
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Harry on July 02, 2007, 07:54:39 AM
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.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: 71 dB on July 02, 2007, 07:59:26 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.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: MishaK on July 02, 2007, 08:06:17 AM
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.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Grazioso on July 02, 2007, 08:07:56 AM
(http://g-ec2.images-amazon.com/images/I/31lLHnOCDwL._AA130_.jpg)

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.

(http://ec1.images-amazon.com/images/I/41H5DQ6FHPL._AA240_.jpg)

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


Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: karlhenning on July 02, 2007, 08:14:24 AM
There's some Hovhaness I like very well;  but I cannot help feeling that "the American Sibelius" is seriously overselling him.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Harry on July 02, 2007, 08:24:07 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
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: 71 dB on July 02, 2007, 08:33:03 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
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: karlhenning on July 02, 2007, 08:34:33 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, Harry!  8)

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:)

I think the same way as you

Oh, there's something for you to worry about, Harry, if you like  ;D
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Harry on July 02, 2007, 08:40:22 AM
Hmm;  I'm not sure how my post occasioned that response, Harry!  8)

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.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Harry on July 02, 2007, 08:45:48 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.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: 71 dB on July 02, 2007, 09:03:59 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.  ;)
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Kullervo on July 02, 2007, 10:02:20 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.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: tjguitar on July 02, 2007, 10:13:29 AM
I only have one Hovhaness. it's alright.  Not my favorite.  But still good.


(http://ec1.images-amazon.com/images/I/412Y6S0X24L._AA240_.jpg)
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: techniquest on July 02, 2007, 10:23:59 AM
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.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: MishaK on July 02, 2007, 10:46:42 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.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: SonicMan46 on July 02, 2007, 11:04:19 AM
(http://www.jpc.de/image/cover/front/0/1631667.jpg)  (http://www.jpc.de/image/cover/front/0/3028511.jpg)

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 -  :)
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: vandermolen on July 03, 2007, 04:11:00 AM
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
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: david johnson on July 03, 2007, 08:18:05 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
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: vandermolen on July 04, 2007, 01:45:07 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.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Thom on July 06, 2007, 01:06:06 AM
There's some Hovhaness I like very well;  but I cannot help feeling that "the American Sibelius" is seriously overselling him.

I feel exactly the same.

Stay away from this record:

(http://www.classical.net/music/recs/images/c/cry00811.jpg)

It's terrible. I think it is his wife who is singing there, but she simply can't sing.

I like his Prayer of St. Gregory:

(http://www.hovhaness.com/IMAGES/CD_Sym%2006.jpg)
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: vandermolen on July 06, 2007, 08:25:44 AM
I feel exactly the same.

Stay away from this record:

(http://www.classical.net/music/recs/images/c/cry00811.jpg)

It's terrible. I think it is his wife who is singing there, but she simply can't sing.

I like his Prayer of St. Gregory:

(http://www.hovhaness.com/IMAGES/CD_Sym%2006.jpg)

The CD with Odysseus Symphony is one of the best Hovhaness CDs
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: S709 on July 07, 2007, 09:46:38 AM
My favorite Hovhaness is a disc by the Shangai Quartet:

(http://delosmus.com/gif/de3162.gif)

This includes such haunting works as the "Ancient Tree" quartet, as well as the miniature Bagatelles for string quartet. I love this music but there is a chance some might call it 'new-age-ish'.

Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: scottscheule on July 07, 2007, 11:11:25 AM
I feel exactly the same.

Stay away from this record:

(http://www.classical.net/music/recs/images/c/cry00811.jpg)

It is his wife singing on that record, and I agree she's terrible.  However, the Symphony No.31, on the same disk, is charming.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Thom on July 07, 2007, 10:44:15 PM
...... However, the Symphony No.31, on the same disk, is charming.

Agreed.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: The new erato on July 08, 2007, 12:53:10 AM
I have never heard Hovhaness being called "the American Sibelius" - but I have met the term being used about Howard Hansson on several occasions  (in several booklets of recordings of his music for example), and since Hansson is of Scandinavian descent, surely more appropriately. Be that as it may, I find Hansson a seriousy more interesting composer than Hovhaness anyway.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: vandermolen on July 08, 2007, 01:52:12 AM
I have never heard Hovhaness being called "the American Sibelius" - but I have met the term being used about Howard Hansson on several occasions  (in several booklets of recordings of his music for example), and since Hansson is of Scandinavian descent, surely more appropriately. Be that as it may, I find Hansson a seriousy more interesting composer than Hovhaness anyway.

Yes, I agree that Hanson is a greater composer than Hovhaness, especially symphonies 1-4 and the Bold Island Suite. His music has greater integrity and more depth.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: The new erato on July 08, 2007, 03:32:50 AM
Yes, I agree that Hanson is a greater composer than Hovhaness, especially symphonies 1-4 and the Bold Island Suite. His music has greater integrity and more depth.
Soory - one s in Hanson. Don't know the Bold Island Suite. Seem to remember there was a Naxos box of all the symphonies (based on Delos rereleases), but don't see it listed anymore. Strange.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Kullervo on July 08, 2007, 04:48:09 AM
Yes, I agree that Hanson is a greater composer than Hovhaness, especially symphonies 1-4 and the Bold Island Suite. His music has greater integrity and more depth.

Duly noted. I shall delve further.  :D
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: 71 dB on July 08, 2007, 06:22:41 AM
I have never heard Hovhaness being called "the American Sibelius" - but I have met the term being used about Howard Hansson on several occasions  (in several booklets of recordings of his music for example), and since Hansson is of Scandinavian descent, surely more appropriately. Be that as it may, I find Hansson a seriousy more interesting composer than Hovhaness anyway.

Hanson who? Never heard of him.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Lethevich on July 08, 2007, 06:34:03 AM
Hanson who? Never heard of him.

Howard Hanson, one of America's best symphonists (although that implies a small group, but there must be about 10 or so deserving of inclusion).

Edit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howard_Hanson
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: The new erato on July 08, 2007, 06:50:34 AM
Mennin, Harris, Schuman, Ives, Piston, Diamond, Hanson, Copland, and then who (to fill up the ten)?. No way I have heard ALL their symphonies, but a majority I think, and I enjoy them a lot (even though some of their cycles have their ups and downs). A personal favorite is Piston, also for his concertoes and chamber works, we NEED the complete quartets.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: scottscheule on July 08, 2007, 06:55:34 AM
If we're looking for ten, throw in Barber.  We might even tap Glass if we feel desperate.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: The new erato on July 08, 2007, 07:00:51 AM
If we're looking for ten, throw in Barber.  We might even tap Glass if we feel desperate.
Even though he wrote only two, Barber it is, how could I forget.

But I'm not desperate enough to include Glass. Persichetti maybe?
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Lethevich on July 08, 2007, 07:20:21 AM
I agree that Glass's symphonies are decidedly second-tier... The reason I mentioned the large group (the 10 was randomly picked out of the air) was that compared to a country such as England, where there are tons of symphonists but two can just peek their heads above the pack in terms of popularity/"greatness" (annoying word) - Vaughan Williams and Elgar, there doesn't seem to be such dominating figures in the US. I suppose Ives could be the big one, but I don't think his great popularity on this site is quite as representitive as it is everywhere else.

So indeed, there's a big group of the leading symphonists including Barber, Diamond, Hanson, Copland, Piston, Ives, Schuman and Harris.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Kullervo on July 08, 2007, 12:13:12 PM
I suppose Ives could be the big one, but I don't think his great popularity on this site is quite as representative as it is everywhere else.

Believe it or not, Ives is much more well-known than Hanson or Diamond. At least, from my experience.

Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Thom on July 08, 2007, 09:14:57 PM
Believe it or not, Ives is much more well-known than Hanson or Diamond. At least, from my experience.

If that is the case, I can't say but probably you are right. Since this thread is about Hovhaness, I rate Ives, Hanson and Diamond much higher than Hovhaness. He wrote over 60 symphonies and a score of other works. I doubt wether it is possible at all to maintain a reasonable quality level with numbers like that. I do not say that he is a bad composer, but no more than second rate if at all.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: vandermolen on July 10, 2007, 11:44:46 PM
Soory - one s in Hanson. Don't know the Bold Island Suite. Seem to remember there was a Naxos box of all the symphonies (based on Delos rereleases), but don't see it listed anymore. Strange.

Here's a fine Hanson CD with "Bold Island" on:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Hanson-Symphony-No-2-Howard/dp/B000AQKUDQ/ref=sr_1_9/202-9539072-0883040?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1184143260&sr=1-9

Yesterday I listened to the Crystal CD shown above including Hovhaness Odysseus and Celestial Gate symphonies. I think it is one of the best Hovhaness CDs I know and a great introduction to an interesting composer.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: jurajjak on July 17, 2007, 03:48:53 PM
I am surprised that no one had mentioned Hovhaness' Symphony #19 (or Vishnu Symphony)...it's one of his key works, and one which he considered among his best.  I love Hovhaness, but will admit some of his work is repetitious, with a sense of deja vu. The Symphony #19, however, is strong, original stuff, and delivers a wild, cosmic ride.   
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: karlhenning on July 17, 2007, 03:50:10 PM
Thanks for the recommendation, jurajjak; that piece was simply unknown to me.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: jurajjak on July 17, 2007, 04:12:26 PM
Apparently when the Symphony #19 was premiered in the late 60's, the 30-minute work was edited down by conductor André Kostelanetz to a mere 11 minutes (not exactly sure why).  Hovhaness was devastated by the butchery, as he considered it one of his best works to date.  It is one of his more psychadelic compositions (for lack of a better word), with wild trumpet playing and trombone glissandi signifying colliding planets and exploding stars (in the composer's own program).  I haven't listened in a while, but I recall it ending with rather complex clusters of flutes and winds that have a rather "space-age" feeling.  I know of only one recording, on the Crystal CD label, and conducted by Hovhaness himself (Crystal specializes in reissued Hovhaness recordings).  Ordering from their website may be the only way to get it...I looked through university libraries and had no luck, and eventually had to special-order it. 

Hovhaness' "Symphony of Metal Instruments" (I think #17?--not sure) is also good, if less wild--the final movement has an excellent, rather malevolent theme for horns, an oversize group of flutes, and Japanese percussion.


Andrew
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: karlhenning on July 18, 2007, 02:50:42 AM
Apparently when the Symphony #19 was premiered in the late 60's, the 30-minute work was edited down by conductor André Kostelanetz to a mere 11 minutes (not exactly sure why).  Hovhaness was devastated by the butchery, as he considered it one of his best works to date. . . .

Crikey, he'd be devastated even if he'd been relatively careless about the piece! :-)

But you know, in 40 years, Hovhaness will still be a notable composer, and nobody is going to know (or care) who Kostalanetz was . . . .

Quote
Hovhaness' "Symphony of Metal Instruments" (I think #17?--not sure) is also good, if less wild--the final movement has an excellent, rather malevolent theme for horns, an oversize group of flutes, and Japanese percussion.

I've heard that one!  Friends of mine whom I visited out in LA have that, and I asked them to play it for me.  Some very nice stuff, and I always like to cut Hovhaness some slack when he makes the effort to give a piece a distinctive profile  8)
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: jurajjak on July 18, 2007, 12:05:36 PM
Have you visited: http://www.hovhaness.com

A very comprehensive site, with descriptions of nearly all the symphonies
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: techniquest on July 20, 2007, 01:02:57 PM
This thread is proving expensive! On the strength of it I have augmented my Hovhaness recordings by buying the Symphony No.19 "Vishnu" (coupled with Requiem & Resurrection), and also (at last) Fra Angelico coupled on CD with 3 other pieces including Symphony No.21 "Etchmiadzin" and the lovely "Mountains & Rivers Without End". Got them from Amazon.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Szykneij on July 23, 2007, 10:41:22 AM
Stay away from this record:

(http://www.classical.net/music/recs/images/c/cry00811.jpg)

It's terrible. I think it is his wife who is singing there, but she simply can't sing.

This CD came in the mail today and I gave it a listen before I read through this thread. I have to disagree with your advice about staying away from it. I would highly recommend the recording overall. There are some excellent orchestrations and melodies here. On the other hand, I can't argue with your take on the tracks with vocals. I ended up skipping forward when the second one was half way through. At least there are only two vocal pieces -- not like a John Lennon CD where every other track is Yoko. (The entire production of this CD was supervised by Hovhaness himself. According to the packaging, it has the liner notes, cover art, and "sound that Hovhaness wanted".)
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Szykneij on August 27, 2007, 09:19:29 AM

St Vartan Symphony


Just listened to this for the first time. 24 "movements" in 5 larger sections that build cohesively to an exciting climax with a double canon at the end. Typical symphonic instrumentation plus vibes, alto sax, and lots of percussion, especially timpani.

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

This is some of that stuff! Great piece!
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: sound67 on August 27, 2007, 11:08:50 AM
The question with Hovhaness is not where to begin, but where to end.

The answer is: Now.

Take it from someone who owns more than a dozen all-Hovhaness discs.

Thomas
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Dundonnell on August 27, 2007, 03:16:23 PM
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.

Not sure that it is exactly true to say that there are "not that many recordings" of Hovhaness's music. I have managed over the years to acquire 22 Hovhaness symphonies(Nos. 1-4, 6, 9. 11, 15, 19, 20-22, 24-25, 31, 39, 46, 49, 50, 53, 60 and 66) plus a good deal of other orchestral music, including the Cello concerto and Double Piano Concerto, and some choral works such as the Magnificat and Cantata "Lady of Light". Agreed, that represents only around a third of his symphonic output but twenty two symphonies does rather overtake most other twentieth century composers(Havergal Brian and Miaskovsky have that honour!).

If you use the excellent website devoted to the music of Hovhaness you can find references to the recordings-many on the Crystal label, others on Koch, Delos and, recently, Naxos.

As to where to start-that is very difficult! I love to wallow in Hovhaness's music without having to concentrate too hard on it and the trouble is that it does become a bit difficult sometimes to tell one piece from another! I too remember the old Unicorn LPs of the 11th symphony coupled with "Fra Angelico" and the Saint Vartan Symphony(No.9) which first attracted me to the music. The "Mount St.Helens" Symphony(No.50) is certainly extremely loud!! If you listen to almost any Hovhaness and are in sympathy with the rich modalities you will probably like the rest.

I would not listen to his music every day however! Too richly upholstered!
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: sound67 on August 27, 2007, 10:06:37 PM
the trouble is that it does become a bit difficult sometimes to tell one piece from another!

Precisely. His music is of a distressing sameness. Buy any two CDs (e.g. one that contains Symphonies Nos. 2 and 50, and one that contains And God Created Great Whales and Prayer of St Gregory), and you got it all.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Szykneij on August 28, 2007, 05:42:01 AM
Precisely. His music is of a distressing sameness. Buy any two CDs (e.g. one that contains Symphonies Nos. 2 and 50, and one that contains And God Created Great Whales and Prayer of St Gregory), and you got it all.

While there's no question his compositions have a recognizable style that is distinctly "Hovhaness", I'd argue against the "sameness" description. His varied use of modes, rhythms, instrumentation, forms, and non-classical influences keeps his music fresh (at least for me).
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Dundonnell on March 10, 2009, 07:34:37 AM
Well, don't start here :(

I bought this cd after reading an enthusiastic review in the 'Gramophone' by Guy Rickard(whom I respect!) but the music is really interminable Japanese-inspired tintabullation.

I like the rich modality of so much Hovhaness-and by heavens there is SO much Hovhaness ;D But this music is boring in the extreme to my ears. Some might like it-I suppose that it sounds more advanced than much of the composer's music-but I have to say that I am mightily disappointed :(

Btw does anybody know why this University of Miami-based orchestra is known as the Frost Symphony Orchestra-the cd booklet does not tell us.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: monafam on June 16, 2009, 12:53:18 PM
I'm new here to GMG (followed a recommendation to an inquiry I posted on another site) and figured I would let my first post fall on a composer I took a chance in with Alan Hovhaness.   I will warn you that I have no real musical background other than enjoying to listen to it, and I've got lots to learn (one reason I came here).

Well over a decade ago I had some money burning a hole in my pocket (those were the days!   ;D).  I went to the classical section of our local Best Buy and purchased a Hovhaness CD with the "Mount St. Helens" and "City of Light" symphonies on a whim.  I had never heard of him to that point.   Anyways, I absolutely loved the CD at the time -- about had a heart attack in the 3rd movement of the "Mount St. Helens" symphony when the drums came in.  I was a sucker for the drums, his fugues, etc.

Needless to say, each time I went back I grabbed another CD, then another.  I was up to 13 when I slowed down my CD purchases -- but Hovy-baby (as I refer to him for some reason) was one of the first classical composers to earn a shot at eating up my Emusic credits.

That's probably way too much information, but I thought it might be worth sharing initially as I go on to a few questions/concerns about him --

1)  One concern I have had is that I've run into a lot of his pieces that sound the same.  I don't just mean it sounds like he wrote it, but it's like the same theme from another work interspersed into a new Opus.  Is this common for other composers?  For some reason, I almost feel like it's cheating to get credit for another Opus when it seems like you already produced that theme.   (This is where my lack of any significant musical background might be clouding my vision.)

2)  Sometimes it feels like he picks an instrument just to use it, but without using the strengths of said instrument.  For example, his Symphony No. 39 for Guitar & orchestra would've been better if he just omitted the guitar altogether.  It was obviously good enough to produce a record, but the guitar part sounds like something that the untrained person could pick up an plunk away at.  (He has a Guitar Concerto that won me over a little more, so he does know how to use it to my liking in other pieces).

3)  What was the deal with Bernstein's beef ("ghetto music"?) with him?  Is his music lacking/simple/trashy?  Did they have issues with one another?

Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: karlhenning on June 16, 2009, 03:44:24 PM
Wasn't flash enough for Lenny  8)
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: vandermolen on July 09, 2009, 01:53:41 AM
Here is an extremely interesting, inexpensive new Guild CD of historic recordings. Hovhaness's 'Exile Symphony' in its 1942 New York American premiere (interestingly the very first performance was given in London in 1939 by the BBC SO conducted by Leslie Heward).

Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: DavidRoss on July 09, 2009, 02:25:36 AM
1)  One concern I have had is that I've run into a lot of his pieces that sound the same.  I don't just mean it sounds like he wrote it, but it's like the same theme from another work interspersed into a new Opus.  Is this common for other composers?  For some reason, I almost feel like it's cheating to get credit for another Opus when it seems like you already produced that theme.   (This is where my lack of any significant musical background might be clouding my vision.)

2)  Sometimes it feels like he picks an instrument just to use it, but without using the strengths of said instrument.  For example, his Symphony No. 39 for Guitar & orchestra would've been better if he just omitted the guitar altogether.  It was obviously good enough to produce a record, but the guitar part sounds like something that the untrained person could pick up an plunk away at.  (He has a Guitar Concerto that won me over a little more, so he does know how to use it to my liking in other pieces).

3)  What was the deal with Bernstein's beef ("ghetto music"?) with him?  Is his music lacking/simple/trashy?  Did they have issues with one another?

Monafam, welcome!

I hope you will return because your first post strikes me as very thoughtful and interesting.  Sorry you just happened to pick a seldom-visited thread for your first and so far only post. 

I liked Mysterious Mountain so much that on the strength of it I bought a few other recordings of his work.  To me it does tend to sound the same.  This is not the norm for classical composers, most of whom have a recognizable "style" that develops over the course of their careers, but whose works do not all sound alike.

I don't know any more about Bernstein and him than what I read on the web, that Hovhaness was a student at Tanglewood when Copland was teaching composition and Bernstein was assisting.  He didn't fit in socially and left early when he felt unfairly criticized for his interest in Eastern music outside the mainstream classical tradition.


Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: karlhenning on July 09, 2009, 02:26:52 AM
Here is an extremely interesting, inexpensive new Guild CD of historic recordings. Hovhaness's 'Exile Symphony' in its 1942 New York American premiere (interestingly the very first performance was given in London in 1939 by the BBC SO conducted by Leslie Heward).

That London premiere curiously befits the subtitle, eh?
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: vandermolen on July 09, 2009, 02:35:54 AM
I'm new here to GMG (followed a recommendation to an inquiry I posted on another site) and figured I would let my first post fall on a composer I took a chance in with Alan Hovhaness.   I will warn you that I have no real musical background other than enjoying to listen to it, and I've got lots to learn (one reason I came here).

Well over a decade ago I had some money burning a hole in my pocket (those were the days!   ;D).  I went to the classical section of our local Best Buy and purchased a Hovhaness CD with the "Mount St. Helens" and "City of Light" symphonies on a whim.  I had never heard of him to that point.   Anyways, I absolutely loved the CD at the time -- about had a heart attack in the 3rd movement of the "Mount St. Helens" symphony when the drums came in.  I was a sucker for the drums, his fugues, etc.

Needless to say, each time I went back I grabbed another CD, then another.  I was up to 13 when I slowed down my CD purchases -- but Hovy-baby (as I refer to him for some reason) was one of the first classical composers to earn a shot at eating up my Emusic credits.

That's probably way too much information, but I thought it might be worth sharing initially as I go on to a few questions/concerns about him --

1)  One concern I have had is that I've run into a lot of his pieces that sound the same.  I don't just mean it sounds like he wrote it, but it's like the same theme from another work interspersed into a new Opus.  Is this common for other composers?  For some reason, I almost feel like it's cheating to get credit for another Opus when it seems like you already produced that theme.   (This is where my lack of any significant musical background might be clouding my vision.)

2)  Sometimes it feels like he picks an instrument just to use it, but without using the strengths of said instrument.  For example, his Symphony No. 39 for Guitar & orchestra would've been better if he just omitted the guitar altogether.  It was obviously good enough to produce a record, but the guitar part sounds like something that the untrained person could pick up an plunk away at.  (He has a Guitar Concerto that won me over a little more, so he does know how to use it to my liking in other pieces).

3)  What was the deal with Bernstein's beef ("ghetto music"?) with him?  Is his music lacking/simple/trashy?  Did they have issues with one another?



The Delos Mount St Helens CD was excellent - one of the best Hovhaness discs. I'd also recommend Symphony No 11 'All Men are Brothers' and Symphony No 6 'Odysseus'. The Cello Concerto on Naxos is also well worth exploring.\ The Naxos discs are a good way into Hovhaness.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: vandermolen on December 13, 2009, 07:32:12 AM
Here is an extremely interesting, inexpensive new Guild CD of historic recordings. Hovhaness's 'Exile Symphony' in its 1942 New York American premiere (interestingly the very first performance was given in London in 1939 by the BBC SO conducted by Leslie Heward).

I've been listening to this CD (see picture above). It's a very good programme, not just for the Hovhaness Exile Symphony but also for the other music - I especially liked the Syphony No 1 by the 17 year old Jose Serebrier. These are all, very atmospheric, live performances from the 1940s and 50s (Serebrier).
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: drogulus on December 31, 2009, 11:54:14 PM
      Hovhaness wrote so much music that it's possible that some of it "all sounds the same" while other pieces are quite distinctly different. That's how it sounds to me. Like many composers he occasionally went on autopilot (OK, a little more than occasionally in this case) and produced too much sameness. Should such a composer cut his output in half and raise the quality? I don't know. Maybe he was one of those who needed to write as much as he did...if he'd halved his output he'd have produced half as many good pieces. Anyway, if you look at all the recs in this thread it turns out he produced quite a bit of good music.

      Does anyone know this recording?

      (http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51c35OIF1gL._SS500_.jpg) (http://www.amazon.com/Vaughan-Williams-Riegger-Hovhaness-Creston/dp/B0010ZVQ8E/ref=sr_1_26?ie=UTF8&s=dmusic&qid=1262385679&sr=1-26)

      It looks very interesting. Vaughan Williams had just died and the program for this live broadcast from Carnegie Hall was changed in order to give the American premiere of the 9th Symphony. And I believe Stokowski premiered the first 2 Hovhaness symphonies as well. Amazon has the CD and downloads.

      Later: After listening to some Amazon clips I'd say this is a worthwhile pick for both Hovhaness and Vaughan Williams. Check out the clips (click on the pic).
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: brunumb on January 01, 2010, 08:39:11 PM
I wish Sony would reissue their Andre Kostelanetz recording of 'And God Created Great Whales'.

As a New Year gesture :D could some of you people please hassle Sony at their website to make this performance available again. 

I've always depended on the kindness of strangers.  :-*
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: kentel on January 02, 2010, 03:32:27 AM
      Hovhaness wrote so much music that it's possible that some of it "all sounds the same" while other pieces are quite distinctly different. That's how it sounds to me. Like many composers he occasionally went on autopilot (OK, a little more than occasionally in this case) and produced too much sameness. Should such a composer cut his output in half and raise the quality? I don't know. Maybe he was one of those who needed to write as much as he did...if he'd halved his output he'd have produced half as many good pieces. Anyway, if you look at all the recs in this thread it turns out he produced quite a bit of good music.

I agree. I think one could have the same debate about Haydn's 104 symphonies. Even some of Mozart's 41+4 symphonies are completely autopiloted. Thus, no doubt that a significant amount of Hovhaness' symphonies are also rather weak or uninspired. Moreover, as Szykniej said in #49  "there's no question his compositions have a recognizable style that is distinctly "Hovhaness". And that is what really matters.

He has a genius to write for the strings and for the evocation of wide landscapes. The characteristic thing with Hovhaness is the slowly flowing string part with a solo trumpet on the top. I think you can find it in each of his symphonies (even in the wind orchestra's symphonies where strings are replaced by wood instruments).

From time to time his solo trumpet is a bit erratic, some melodies are awkwardly unconnected, the coherence of the whole isn't always at the very top, but you have so incredibly beautiful moments that it doesn't matters. At some points, he reaches the highest level of poetic evocation in music (and at others he's really very low on the inspiration scale, but that's why I find his musical personality really endearing).

In my opinion, the best symphonies among those I've heard are the 2, 4, 6, 15 & 63, and the best I've heard is the 22 "City of Light", which has been mentioned several times in this thread. Unfortunately, I've only heard 17 of them...

Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: kentel on January 02, 2010, 05:24:47 AM
Yes, I agree that Hanson is a greater composer than Hovhaness, especially symphonies 1-4 and the Bold Island Suite. His music has greater integrity and more depth.

This discussion is a bit old but I found it very interesting. So I cannot resist to bring it back up :)

I wouldn't say that Hanson is greater : he has certainly a better command of music writing, his symphonies are all very well structured, developed, orchestrated, and they show all in all no weaknesses. They are powerful, evocative, highly inspired and very convincing works, which make Hanson one of the greatest American symphonists (and one of the greatest symphonists whatsoever).

BUT, although Hovhaness' music command tends to be unsure from time to time, although he has not so powerful a sense for big symphonic architectures as Hanson does, although his writing is much more simple than Hanson's, the emotional intensity of his symphonies reaches heights that Hanson's symphonies do not (reach). Well, it was just a feeling :)
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: kentel on January 02, 2010, 06:25:39 AM
Mennin, Harris, Schuman, Ives, Piston, Diamond, Hanson, Copland, and then who (to fill up the ten)?. No way I have heard ALL their symphonies, but a majority I think, and I enjoy them a lot (even though some of their cycles have their ups and downs). A personal favorite is Piston, also for his concertoes and chamber works, we NEED the complete quartets.

I cannot resist to take part in this debate either (3rd message in a row, sorry but I read the whole thread  and I wasn't here in 2007 :D ).

I agree with you for the most : Harris and Schuman are for me the best american symphonists (if what you mean by that is "composers of symphonies" and not "composers of orchestral works"). After them : Ives and Copland, but they wrote only 4 and 3 symphonies. And the first, in both cases, is not astoundingly good. They are OK though. On the contrary, Copland's Third is for me the best american symphony, in competition with Ives' Fourth.

Piston and Mennin are fine too. I am not a geek of Barber's symphonies. Of Diamond's neither. Hovhaness would sure be in my list. Hanson too. Bernstein wrote 3 great symphonies - even the 1st is great; much better than most of his orchestral works. What about Antheil, Maslanka and Ward ? Persichetti wrote a wonderful one (the 3rd), but the others seems very weak to me in comparison.

Harris, Schuman, Copland, Ives, Piston, Hanson, Hovhaness, Bernstein, Antheil, Ward + Mennin and Maslanka (in all subjectivity, as usual :))

In fact, there is certainly as much as great symphonists in USA than in England.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: vandermolen on January 03, 2010, 11:34:23 AM
      Hovhaness wrote so much music that it's possible that some of it "all sounds the same" while other pieces are quite distinctly different. That's how it sounds to me. Like many composers he occasionally went on autopilot (OK, a little more than occasionally in this case) and produced too much sameness. Should such a composer cut his output in half and raise the quality? I don't know. Maybe he was one of those who needed to write as much as he did...if he'd halved his output he'd have produced half as many good pieces. Anyway, if you look at all the recs in this thread it turns out he produced quite a bit of good music.

      Does anyone know this recording?

      (http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51c35OIF1gL._SS500_.jpg) (http://www.amazon.com/Vaughan-Williams-Riegger-Hovhaness-Creston/dp/B0010ZVQ8E/ref=sr_1_26?ie=UTF8&s=dmusic&qid=1262385679&sr=1-26)

      It looks very interesting. Vaughan Williams had just died and the program for this live broadcast from Carnegie Hall was changed in order to give the American premiere of the 9th Symphony. And I believe Stokowski premiered the first 2 Hovhaness symphonies as well. Amazon has the CD and downloads.

      Later: After listening to some Amazon clips I'd say this is a worthwhile pick for both Hovhaness and Vaughan Williams. Check out the clips (click on the pic).

I have this CD - bought it for the (unrivalled- absolutely marvellously defiant) performance of the VW. The Hovhaness is an outstanding performance too. All the pieces were recorded at a Carnegie Hall live concert on 25th Sept. 1958.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: vandermolen on March 29, 2010, 01:10:21 PM
Greatly enjoying this CD, - especially the performance and recording of Symphony No 6: 'The Celestial Gate' - one of the best I think, and superior to the good performance on Koch. I Fiamminghi from Flanders are a very impressive orchestra. This would be a good starting point for Hovhaness, as it includes a wide selection of enjoyable pieces.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: karlhenning on March 29, 2010, 03:14:02 PM
Yes, a great little disc, Jeffrey.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Lethevich on March 29, 2010, 09:52:29 PM
 kentel - thanks for your posts here - I am currently not very close to Hovhaness' style, but if you see something in him, I'll keep this in mind during future listens. I am especially interested by how you consider him great but flawed, as some of my favourite composers have very obvious weak points or imbalances in their compositional output.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Scarpia on March 30, 2010, 05:13:33 AM
My impression of Hovhaness is that he simply has a very limited range, everything I've heard of him conveys a similar impression.  If you have one of his symphonies the other hundred or so are redundant.  Get the Reiner recording, and maybe that nice Telarc disc and your collection is complete.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Guido on March 31, 2010, 03:27:39 AM
I can't believe people are recommending the cello concerto - it's one of the dullest concertos I've ever heard - prolix, simplistic, poor thematic material, repetitive, unimaginative. The only thing I can say about it is that it is not ugly from moment to moment (structurally its a disaster) - but that seems an awfully low standard to set for whether to recommend a work or not.

Why do I always confuse Hovhaness with Rautavaara? Do these guys have anything in common?!  :o :)
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: karlhenning on March 31, 2010, 03:38:35 AM
I can't believe people are recommending the cello concerto - it's one of the dullest concertos I've ever heard - prolix, simplistic, poor thematic material, repetitive, unimaginative. The only thing I can say about it is that it is not ugly from moment to moment (structurally its a disaster) - but that seems an awfully low standard to set for whether to recommend a work or not.

Why do I always confuse Hovhaness with Rautavaara? Do these guys have anything in common?!  :o :)

Considering Paragraph 1, Paragraph 2 is a stinging rebuke of Rautavaara, wot? ; )
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: vandermolen on March 31, 2010, 12:24:21 PM
My impression of Hovhaness is that he simply has a very limited range, everything I've heard of him conveys a similar impression.  If you have one of his symphonies the other hundred or so are redundant.  Get the Reiner recording, and maybe that nice Telarc disc and your collection is complete.
See what you mean, but I think that you also need to hear:

Symphony 60 'Mount St Helens' (easily my favourite work by Hovhaness)

'Exile Symphony' (No 1)

Symphony No 11 'All Men are Brothers'

Or, if you can't face all three just go for Mount St Helens  :D


Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Scarpia on March 31, 2010, 01:15:36 PM
See what you mean, but I think that you also need to hear:

Symphony 60 'Mount St Helens' (easily my favourite work by Hovhaness)

'Exile Symphony' (No 1)

Symphony No 11 'All Men are Brothers'

Or, if you can't face all three just go for Mount St Helens  :D

Well, I have the "Mysterious Mountain" with Reiner/Chicago and the "Celestial Gate" on that Flammengi disc.  So the question for me is not where to start, it is where to stop.  I think I should have stopped about 1 disc ago.   :D
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: vandermolen on March 31, 2010, 02:16:46 PM
Well, I have the "Mysterious Mountain" with Reiner/Chicago and the "Celestial Gate" on that Flammengi disc.  So the question for me is not where to start, it is where to stop.  I think I should have stopped about 1 disc ago.   :D

No. No - you still need to hear Mount St Helens  ;D

PS - this is the best version - available for £3.94 on Amazon UK

Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Guido on March 31, 2010, 05:48:10 PM
Not at all, I think Rautavaara can be rather charming. All I've heard of Hovhaness is the Cello concerto (awful) and the second symphony which I rather liked.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: snyprrr on November 26, 2012, 07:18:59 AM
i don't know why...
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on November 26, 2012, 07:37:52 AM
i don't know why...

He's a better composer than some give him credit for.

And now I am keen to revisit his Cello Concerto. I don't remember it being awful, at all.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on November 26, 2012, 08:02:30 AM
Thread Duty:

I think Lousadzak would be a decent starting point.  Certainly the sort of piece where, if you decide you don't care for it, you know to move on.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: cilgwyn on November 26, 2012, 09:38:54 AM
Quite a while back now,I bought a big load of Hovhaness cds! I think he'd been R3's This Weeks Composer & I was 'grabbed' by some of the music I heard!
Unfortunately,as I eventually discovered,after listening carefully to my pile of Hovhaness cds;some of the jibes about Hovhaness writing the same piece over & over again,DO have more than a grain of truth!
Still,at his best,he is imho,a very original & absorbing composer. Play him to some people who think they don't like classical music,or people who just know all the usual composers like Mozart & beethoven,for example & they'll react like 'Wow! What's that?!!'
To the more jaded listener like me the following cds are a varied selection of Hovhaness at his most individualistic & best,so here goes!!!

A very varied selection in lush 'Delos' sound quality,but Michael York as narrator in the Rubaiyat. A lovely piece & fair play,I'm no fan,but York is suprisingly good. The Exile Symphony is one of his best & the Fantasy on Japanese Woodprints is mysterious & evocative. I love it! :)

The Rubaiyat,Exile Symphony,Meditation on Orpheus & Fantasy on Japanese Woodprints York/Seattle SO Schwarz       Delos

Karl Henning is absolutely right to pick out the Lousadzak-Concerto for Piano & Strings. This is coupled on a superbly recorded & performed Black Box cd with the Concerto for two Pianos & Orchestra. Haunting,hypnotic,mesmerising works. Again,Hovhaness at his very best!

Concerto for two Pianos,Lousadzak,3 pieces for2 pianos Black Box

A very populist compilation of some of his best Symphonies in fine modern performances & lovely,lush Telarc sound quality:

Mysterious Mountains: Symphony No 2 'Mysterious Mountain',Symphony No 66 'Hymn to Glacier Peak',Symphony No 50 'Mount St Helens & Storm on Mount Wildcat.
                                         RLPO/ Schwarz                     Delos

Hovhaness at his most wild & wacky!!! Like very sophisticated New Age tapes,but less boring,thankfully!! ;D Bells,drones,percussion,brass,etc. Some of Hovhaness's pieces in this vein DO outstay their welcome. These don't! But while the sound quality is pretty good,it would be nice to hear music like this in Delos or Telarc style sound quality!



Requiem & Resurrection for Brass,Choir & Percussion,Symphony No 19 'Vishnu'                Sevan Philharmonic Hovhaness  Crystal

Another example of the above kind of Hovhaness,but in really superb state of the art digital sound quality. This is the kind of recording quality Hovhaness REALLY needs,to get the maximum out of all that exotic,tintinabulating percussion,etc. Maybe some of it goes on a bit too long in places. But what an exotic carpet of sound! Wow!! ;D Play this one to you're hippy friends!! ;D

Visions of the East: Ode to the Temple of Sound,Symphony No 10 'Vahaken',Floating World   Frost SO/ Chung Park          Centaur

Hovhaness's solo piano music at it's most exploratory,exotic & wacky best. The sound is NOT state of the art,but the performances are very good & again,it's another side of Hovhaness at his best! Again,new state of the digital recordings would be wonderful,if some cd label would oblige?!

Khaldis: Concerto for Piano,four trumpets & percussion,Mount Katahdin,Fantasy (This last one,played by Hovhaness himself)
                                                                                    Crystal

I also quite like this one for late night listening. Maybe some of it meanders a bit,but again,it's in lovely,lush Telarc sound,it's very relaxing & the combination of the harp & guitar in the piece entitled 'Spirit of Trees', is curiously enthralling. Hypnotic is another word,I suppose. Like new age tapes again,but less boring!! So maybe you should only buy this one if you like the cds listed above!!! Or want a cd for Yoga or Transcendental meditation!!! :o ;D ;D Get out the incense,get in the lotus position,and.............oh noooo,phone the paramedics,I'm stuck!!! :o :(

Concerto for Harp & String Orchestra,Spirit of Trees 'Sonata for Harp & Guitar',Upon Enchanted Ground for Flute,Cello,Giant Tam-Tam & Harp                          Yolanda Kondonassis   Telarc


One of Hovhaness's best Symphonies,imo,is his Eighth. Unfortunately,as far as I know it has never been released on cd! :( R3 Composer of the Week included a complete performance,which I recorded & Hovhaness recorded a performance which,apparently (I haven't heard it) leaves that one firmly in the shade!

Fritz Reiner made a famous recording of 'Mysterious Mountain',of course!

A particularly well known work by Hovhaness is his 'And God created Great Whales' for taped Whale song & orchestra. I remember attending a concert performance,once. Unfortunately,a Japanese Whaling ship turned up! ;D :o
Seriously,imho (again! ;D) despite the evocative use of Whale song,this is not Hovhaness at his best. I like it,but I can't help thinking I'm just liking it because of the Whale song! Wouldn't I just be better off buying a cd of Whale Song instead?!! Anyway,if you like Classical music with the sounds of nature grafted on,for my money Rautavaara's 'Cantus Articus' is more effective!
                                     
Must have a rest after all this Hovhaness & typing!!!! :o :( ;D

Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: snyprrr on November 26, 2012, 01:55:37 PM
                       
Must have a rest after all this Hovhaness & typing!!!! :o :( ;D

You did well! ;)


And now I am keen to revisit his Cello Concerto. I don't remember it being awful, at all.[/font]

hmm, Guido would like to disagree!... a few Posts up...



btw- I used to have the Loudzak(sic) on the MusicMasters cd (with the great Harrison), along with MysMount. I recall liking the Harrison by faaar. I AM curious about the Hovhaness SQs on Delos, though.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: cilgwyn on November 28, 2012, 09:45:13 AM
Actually,I was wondering whether to include that Delos Sq cd! I think,I decided to leave it out in favour of the Telarc Spirit of Trees cd,because I like that combination of Harp & guitar! I seem to remember ::) ;D I DID quite enjoy that one,and.....this (presumably) HAS to be of significance.....unlike ALLOT of the Hovhanes cds I bought at the time.....it hasn't been carted off to a charity shop!!!
I'll put it on a bit later & report back,as they say! ;D

Buy wisely & sparingly of Hovhaness & you may,even WILL,find a good deal to enjoy & admire. Just bear in mind that all those cds of compositions with wacky,exotic sounding names & amazing sounding twenty four movement symphonies glittering at you on that Amazon website, might not end up sounding quite as fascinating as they once looked!!

Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Mirror Image on November 28, 2012, 09:53:45 AM
I look at Hovhaness as I would chocolate. Eating a few pieces is okay, but you have to be careful not to over-indulge yourself or you'll end up sick to your stomach. :)
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Mirror Image on November 28, 2012, 04:51:08 PM
Don't let my joking comment fool you, I do like a lot of Hovhaness' music and think quite highly of him as a composer.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: snyprrr on November 28, 2012, 09:10:32 PM

I also quite like this one for late night listening. Maybe some of it meanders a bit,but again,it's in lovely,lush Telarc sound,it's very relaxing & the combination of the harp & guitar in the piece entitled 'Spirit of Trees', is curiously enthralling. Hypnotic is another word,I suppose. Like new age tapes again,but less boring!! So maybe you should only buy this one if you like the cds listed above!!! Or want a cd for Yoga or Transcendental meditation!!! :o ;D ;D Get out the incense,get in the lotus position,and.............oh noooo,phone the paramedics,I'm stuck!!! :o :(

Concerto for Harp & String Orchestra,Spirit of Trees 'Sonata for Harp & Guitar',Upon Enchanted Ground for Flute,Cello,Giant Tam-Tam & Harp                          Yolanda Kondonassis   Telarc

Must have a rest after all this Hovhaness & typing!!!! :o :( ;D

This looks like the best place for me to go.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: vandermolen on April 11, 2013, 06:27:27 AM
This would be a great way to start investigating Hovhaness or if you just wanted one CD of his music in your collection. Symphony No 50 'Mount St Helens' is probably my favourite of the many I have heard and No 1 'Exile' is also one of the best. The music depicting the eruption of the volcano is very exciting but there are also poetic aspects to the Symphony No 50 ('Spirit Lake').  The Fantasy on Japanese woodprints is worth having too. This reissues material previously issued (on different CDs) on Delos - a fine disc.

Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on April 11, 2013, 06:33:36 AM
. . . This reissues material previously issued (on different CDs) on Delos - a fine disc.

Yes, I have the source disc with the Mt St Helens Symphony.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: vandermolen on April 12, 2013, 09:04:43 AM
Yes, I have the source disc with the Mt St Helens Symphony.

That's a great CD Karl.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on August 09, 2013, 07:49:30 AM
Greatly enjoying this CD, - especially the performance and recording of Symphony No 6: 'The Celestial Gate' - one of the best I think, and superior to the good performance on Koch. I Fiamminghi from Flanders are a very impressive orchestra.

Revisited this last night, Jeffrey; a wonderful performance, and a beautiful symphony.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: vandermolen on August 09, 2013, 12:03:05 PM
Revisited this last night, Jeffrey; a wonderful performance, and a beautiful symphony.

Hi Karl, I briefly have Internet access in Stockholm - yes, it is a great work, one of Hovhaness's best I think. I also like the photo of the composer on the original Delos release, which I think you have. The Delos/Naxos is also the best performance of the work. The best introduction to his music I think.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: kyjo on August 09, 2013, 06:19:22 PM
Hovhaness is a composer who I admit to rather liking. True, his huge output is not entirely guilt-free from a certain "samey" feeling, but there are definitely works that stand out from one another. My three favorite Hovhaness works are Symphonies nos. 1 Exile, 2 Mysterious Mountain and 50 Mount St. Helens. No. 1 is not in Hovhaness' mature style; it is more dramatic and rather Sibelian in places, but certainly none the worse for that (that's actually one of the main reasons I like it)! No. 2, his most famous work, is a simply gorgeous piece with achingly beautiful string lines. Reiner's legendary performance of this work is simply unmissable! No. 50 is surprisingly contrasted for Hovhaness. The first two movements are contemplative and evocative, usual Hovhaness fare, but the third and final movement, Volcano, comes as a shock. It realistically and powerfully depicts the eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980. It's just so damn awesome! I wish Hovhaness had composed more music like this! Near the end, a hymn-like theme emerges in Hovhanessian splendor, ending the work in a paean to nature. These are my favorite Hovhaness discs:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41YBKTEEM1L.jpg)  (http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2006/Dec06/Hovhaness_60_8559294.jpg)  (http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51IraAX%2Bj7L._SX300_.jpg) (http://musicweb-international.com/classrev/2011/Dec11/Hovhaness_sy1_BMOP1020.jpg)  (http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51nAoPCFYhL._SY300_.jpg)  (http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/61wrdkZ%2BrqL._SY300_.jpg)

 :)
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: vandermolen on August 10, 2013, 09:44:44 AM
Hovhaness is a composer who I admit to rather liking. True, his huge output is not entirely guilt-free from a certain "samey" feeling, but there are definitely works that stand out from one another. My three favorite Hovhaness works are Symphonies nos. 1 Exile, 2 Mysterious Mountain and 50 Mount St. Helens. No. 1 is not in Hovhaness' mature style; it is more dramatic and rather Sibelian in places, but certainly none the worse for that (that's actually one of the main reasons I like it)! No. 2, his most famous work, is a simply gorgeous piece with achingly beautiful string lines. Reiner's legendary performance of this work is simply unmissable! No. 50 is surprisingly contrasted for Hovhaness. The first two movements are contemplative and evocative, usual Hovhaness fare, but the third and final movement, Volcano, comes as a shock. It realistically and powerfully depicts the eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980. It's just so damn awesome! I wish Hovhaness had composed more music like this! Near the end, a hymn-like theme emerges in Hovhanessian splendor, ending the work in a paean to nature. These are my favorite Hovhaness discs:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41YBKTEEM1L.jpg)  (http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2006/Dec06/Hovhaness_60_8559294.jpg)  (http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51IraAX%2Bj7L._SX300_.jpg) (http://musicweb-international.com/classrev/2011/Dec11/Hovhaness_sy1_BMOP1020.jpg)  (http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51nAoPCFYhL._SY300_.jpg)  (http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/61wrdkZ%2BrqL._SY300_.jpg)

 :)

I very much agree with all your choices. The Symphony No 2 shows the influence of the Tallis Fantasia by Vaughan Williams. The other works I like are Symphony 11 'All Men are Brothers', the 'Odysseus Symphony' (an early discovery for me on LP) and the 'City of Light' Symphony.
S
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: kyjo on August 10, 2013, 10:11:37 AM
I very much agree with all your choices. The Symphony No 2 shows the influence of the Tallis Fantasia by Vaughan Williams. The other works I like are Symphony 11 'All Men are Brothers', the 'Odysseus Symphony' (an early discovery for me on LP) and the 'City of Light' Symphony.
S

It's been a while since I've heard the 11th or 25th (Odysseus) symphonies; I'll have to dig them out sometime. The City of Light Symphony (no. 22) is indeed a beautiful work with ravishing orchestral colors. I wasn't particularly enthralled with the Cello Concerto with which it is coupled on the Naxos disc, so that's why I didn't list that disc among my favorites.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: vandermolen on August 10, 2013, 10:22:46 AM
It's been a while since I've heard the 11th or 25th (Odysseus) symphonies; I'll have to dig them out sometime. The City of Light Symphony (no. 22) is indeed a beautiful work with ravishing orchestral colors. I wasn't particularly enthralled with the Cello Concerto with which it is coupled on the Naxos disc, so that's why I didn't list that disc among my favorites.

Symphony No. 6 'Celestial Gate' is another favourite.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: pencils on August 14, 2013, 03:43:47 AM
I am yet to find a piece by Hovhaness that I don't like. Prayer of St. Gregory, this morning while shaking myself ready for work, was majestic.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on August 14, 2013, 04:02:02 AM
I am yet to find a piece by Hovhaness that I don't like. Prayer of St. Gregory, this morning while shaking myself ready for work, was majestic.

At times, I felt that his work was too homogeneous (not saying that is the case, just reporting the historical opinion).  And now and again, I would play the Prayer of St Gregory (reading the trumpet part on the clarinet), and I'd realize that the understatement was no flaw, and here was a fine artist.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: cilgwyn on August 14, 2013, 04:50:20 AM
Quite a while back now,I bought a big load of Hovhaness cds! I think he'd been R3's This Weeks Composer & I was 'grabbed' by some of the music I heard!
Unfortunately,as I eventually discovered,after listening carefully to my pile of Hovhaness cds;some of the jibes about Hovhaness writing the same piece over & over again,DO have more than a grain of truth!
Still,at his best,he is imho,a very original & absorbing composer. Play him to some people who think they don't like classical music,or people who just know all the usual composers like Mozart & beethoven,for example & they'll react like 'Wow! What's that?!!'
To the more jaded listener like me the following cds are a varied selection of Hovhaness at his most individualistic & best,so here goes!!!

A very varied selection in lush 'Delos' sound quality,but Michael York as narrator in the Rubaiyat. A lovely piece & fair play,I'm no fan,but York is suprisingly good. The Exile Symphony is one of his best & the Fantasy on Japanese Woodprints is mysterious & evocative. I love it! :)

The Rubaiyat,Exile Symphony,Meditation on Orpheus & Fantasy on Japanese Woodprints York/Seattle SO Schwarz       Delos

Karl Henning is absolutely right to pick out the Lousadzak-Concerto for Piano & Strings. This is coupled on a superbly recorded & performed Black Box cd with the Concerto for two Pianos & Orchestra. Haunting,hypnotic,mesmerising works. Again,Hovhaness at his very best!

Concerto for two Pianos,Lousadzak,3 pieces for2 pianos Black Box

A very populist compilation of some of his best Symphonies in fine modern performances & lovely,lush Telarc sound quality:

Mysterious Mountains: Symphony No 2 'Mysterious Mountain',Symphony No 66 'Hymn to Glacier Peak',Symphony No 50 'Mount St Helens & Storm on Mount Wildcat.
                                         RLPO/ Schwarz                     Delos

Hovhaness at his most wild & wacky!!! Like very sophisticated New Age tapes,but less boring,thankfully!! ;D Bells,drones,percussion,brass,etc. Some of Hovhaness's pieces in this vein DO outstay their welcome. These don't! But while the sound quality is pretty good,it would be nice to hear music like this in Delos or Telarc style sound quality!



Requiem & Resurrection for Brass,Choir & Percussion,Symphony No 19 'Vishnu'                Sevan Philharmonic Hovhaness  Crystal

Another example of the above kind of Hovhaness,but in really superb state of the art digital sound quality. This is the kind of recording quality Hovhaness REALLY needs,to get the maximum out of all that exotic,tintinabulating percussion,etc. Maybe some of it goes on a bit too long in places. But what an exotic carpet of sound! Wow!! ;D Play this one to you're hippy friends!! ;D

Visions of the East: Ode to the Temple of Sound,Symphony No 10 'Vahaken',Floating World   Frost SO/ Chung Park          Centaur

Hovhaness's solo piano music at it's most exploratory,exotic & wacky best. The sound is NOT state of the art,but the performances are very good & again,it's another side of Hovhaness at his best! Again,new state of the digital recordings would be wonderful,if some cd label would oblige?!

Khaldis: Concerto for Piano,four trumpets & percussion,Mount Katahdin,Fantasy (This last one,played by Hovhaness himself)
                                                                                    Crystal

I also quite like this one for late night listening. Maybe some of it meanders a bit,but again,it's in lovely,lush Telarc sound,it's very relaxing & the combination of the harp & guitar in the piece entitled 'Spirit of Trees', is curiously enthralling. Hypnotic is another word,I suppose. Like new age tapes again,but less boring!! So maybe you should only buy this one if you like the cds listed above!!! Or want a cd for Yoga or Transcendental meditation!!! :o ;D ;D Get out the incense,get in the lotus position,and.............oh noooo,phone the paramedics,I'm stuck!!! :o :(

Concerto for Harp & String Orchestra,Spirit of Trees 'Sonata for Harp & Guitar',Upon Enchanted Ground for Flute,Cello,Giant Tam-Tam & Harp                          Yolanda Kondonassis   Telarc


One of Hovhaness's best Symphonies,imo,is his Eighth. Unfortunately,as far as I know it has never been released on cd! :( R3 Composer of the Week included a complete performance,which I recorded & Hovhaness recorded a performance which,apparently (I haven't heard it) leaves that one firmly in the shade!

Fritz Reiner made a famous recording of 'Mysterious Mountain',of course!

A particularly well known work by Hovhaness is his 'And God created Great Whales' for taped Whale song & orchestra. I remember attending a concert performance,once. Unfortunately,a Japanese Whaling ship turned up! ;D :o
Seriously,imho (again! ;D) despite the evocative use of Whale song,this is not Hovhaness at his best. I like it,but I can't help thinking I'm just liking it because of the Whale song! Wouldn't I just be better off buying a cd of Whale Song instead?!! Anyway,if you like Classical music with the sounds of nature grafted on,for my money Rautavaara's 'Cantus Articus' is more effective!
                                     
Must have a rest after all this Hovhaness & typing!!!! :o :( ;D
I don't really want to go through all this again,right now;but I had a massive pile of Hovhaness cds,and eventually I whittled them all down to these (listed in my post above) which I honestly feel are all you need & very representative of his output at it's best.
I have bought another since,though,which I enjoyed very much:

Symphony No 4 'To the Green Mountains',Symphony No 39 'Symphony for guitar & orchestra' Michael Long (guitar) KBS Symphony Orchestra Vakhtang Jordania   Koch

(deleted unfortunately. I managed to get it at a low price).


                               
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: vandermolen on September 02, 2013, 06:07:36 AM
Super new CD. All performed or recorded in Russia. The Concerto for Two Pianos is classic Hovhaness, yet more abrasive in some sections with the pianos used as a kind of tinkling percussion. The Prayer of St Gregory was given the best performance I know, from a live concert and slower than other versions. Although I am over-familiar with the work I was very moved. Furthermore the accompanying booklet is packed with articles, reminiscences and photos of Hovhaness:

Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: kyjo on September 02, 2013, 06:42:44 AM
Super new CD. All performed or recorded in Russia. The Concerto for Two Pianos is classic Hovhaness, yet more abrasive in some sections with the pianos used as a kind of tinkering percussion. The Prayer of St Gregory was given the best performance I know, from a live concert and slower than other versions. Although I am over-familiar with the work I was very moved. Furthermore the accompanying booklet is packed with articles, reminiscences and photos of Hovhaness:



Thanks for pointing this one out, Jeffrey. :) Will investigate!
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: vandermolen on September 02, 2013, 12:30:21 PM
Thanks for pointing this one out, Jeffrey. :) Will investigate!

Am sure you will not regret doing so Kyle.  :)
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on November 22, 2013, 05:39:55 AM
I am yet to find a piece by Hovhaness that I don't like. Prayer of St. Gregory, this morning while shaking myself ready for work, was majestic.

The Prayer is lovely engagingly simple.

A recent discovery is Khrimian Harig, Op.49 (1944, rev. 1948) which at first seems frightfully not-dissimilar to the Prayer (which is from the 1946 opera Etchmiadzin) . . . and I hate finding bits like that, because of the accusation of sameyness to which Hovhaness appears liable!
 
Against that, though, is a piece like the 1963 Symphony № 17, Op.203, "Symphony for Metal Orchestra" (6 flutes, 3 trombones, 5 percussion) which is fabulous, perhaps the best piece of his I have heard yet.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Szykneij on December 20, 2013, 01:07:14 PM
I knew Hovhaness was born in nearby Somerville, Massacusetts, attended Tufts University just up the street from my home, and was organist at an Armenian church I passed frequently when my wife worked in Watertown, but I just discovered this monument today. Doing some Christmas shopping in nearby Arlington, I walked by it this afternoon. I had never noticed it before, so it might have been newly erected. Maybe Ernie knows?
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on December 20, 2013, 01:14:48 PM
Thanks for the pic, Tony!  I believe I noticed that sometime this past summer . . . .
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: jochanaan on December 20, 2013, 08:17:00 PM
I like Hovhaness' music very much.  In addition to the ones mentioned (I'm particularly fond of Mysterious Mountain--again, the flawless Reiner/Chicago recording!--and Mount St. Helens), there is a classic recording of his music by the Louisville Orchestra (http://www.discogs.com/Alan-Hovhaness-Concerto-No-7-Symphony-No-15-Magnificat/release/2030429).  My favorite on that one is the Concerto for Orchestra. 8)
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on December 21, 2013, 05:14:19 AM
Ooh, that's one I don't know . . . .
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Szykneij on December 23, 2013, 03:31:40 PM
I like Hovhaness' music very much.  In addition to the ones mentioned (I'm particularly fond of Mysterious Mountain--again, the flawless Reiner/Chicago recording!--and Mount St. Helens), there is a classic recording of his music by the Louisville Orchestra (http://www.discogs.com/Alan-Hovhaness-Concerto-No-7-Symphony-No-15-Magnificat/release/2030429).  My favorite on that one is the Concerto for Orchestra. 8)

Very nice piece! The concerto is included in a bunch of Louisville box sets I have on vinyl. A neat thing about those recordings is that all of the liner notes were written by the composers themselves. I don't know if that's the case with the digital re-issues.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: jochanaan on December 23, 2013, 04:15:03 PM
Ooh, that's one I don't know . . . .
*jaw drop* I found one Karl doesn't know!?! ;D
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: jochanaan on December 23, 2013, 04:21:28 PM
I should also mention Symphony #23 "Ani" for band. Some very interesting "chance" writing in the first movement. 8)
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on December 23, 2013, 06:01:51 PM
*jaw drop* I found one Karl doesn't know!?! ;D

I was mistaken! That one's on the I Fiamminghi disc which was one of my first Hovhaness purchases :)
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on December 23, 2013, 06:03:00 PM
I never knew that it concludes with the Hymn to a Slugger, though!  $:)
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: jochanaan on December 23, 2013, 06:07:25 PM
I was mistaken! That one's on the I Fiamminghi disc which was one of my first Hovhaness purchases :)
I should have known. When it seems too good to be true... :laugh:
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on December 23, 2013, 06:09:37 PM
Hah!
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: springrite on December 23, 2013, 06:13:38 PM
I am always tempted to say: "Begin anywhere…   and STOP."
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on December 23, 2013, 06:18:23 PM
Wherever you may be, there you are.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on December 23, 2013, 06:20:02 PM
I should also mention Symphony #23 "Ani" for band. Some very interesting "chance" writing in the first movement. 8)

You knew that before I did. I found it on this wonderful Naxos disc:

Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Szykneij on December 24, 2013, 05:31:35 AM
I never knew that it concludes with the Hymn to a Slugger, though!  $:)

Perhaps Robert Whitney used one as a baton!   :)
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on December 24, 2013, 05:33:21 AM
HIP!
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Szykneij on December 24, 2013, 12:10:55 PM
HIP!

... or OBP
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: worov on January 12, 2014, 01:30:13 PM
Recently I started to listen to his piano music. This recording was amazing :

(http://oi42.tinypic.com/wi3605.jpg)

I already know Lousadzak (opus 44) and the concerto for 2 pianos and orchestra (opus 123 no 3). I'm interested in hearing more of it. Does anyone have any recommendation about his piano music ?
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: vandermolen on January 12, 2014, 01:44:17 PM
I knew Hovhaness was born in nearby Somerville, Massacusetts, attended Tufts University just up the street from my home, and was organist at an Armenian church I passed frequently when my wife worked in Watertown, but I just discovered this monument today. Doing some Christmas shopping in nearby Arlington, I walked by it this afternoon. I had never noticed it before, so it might have been newly erected. Maybe Ernie knows?

Hadn't seen this message before - what a nice discovery!
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: vandermolen on January 12, 2014, 01:45:36 PM
Recently I started to listen to his piano music. This recording was amazing :

(http://oi42.tinypic.com/wi3605.jpg)

I already know Lousadzak (opus 44) and the concerto for 2 pianos and orchestra (opus 123 no 3). I'm interested in hearing more of it. Does anyone have any recommendation about his piano music ?

You might the 'Historic Moscow Recordings' CD ( blue, mountainous cover) featured on the previous page.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on August 28, 2015, 09:19:07 AM
I knew Hovhaness was born in nearby Somerville, Massacusetts, attended Tufts University just up the street from my home, and was organist at an Armenian church I passed frequently when my wife worked in Watertown, but I just discovered this monument today. Doing some Christmas shopping in nearby Arlington, I walked by it this afternoon. I had never noticed it before, so it might have been newly erected. Maybe Ernie knows?

Looks like it dates from 2009, so, in preparation of the centenary? (http://armenianweekly.com/2009/05/07/unveiling-of-alan-hovhaness-monument/)
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on August 28, 2015, 09:20:45 AM
Thanks to Simon, I discovered this recording:
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on August 28, 2015, 09:29:40 AM
Connecting the dots in the composer's notes to the recording:  The idea for Requiem and Resurrection arose in 1967 after the first terribly cut performance of Symphony No. 19 “Vishnu.”  I was deeply disappointed because I felt it was one of my best works.

. . . and The first performance [of “Vishnu”] was conducted by Andre Kostelanitz with the New York Philharmonic in 1967.

“Vishnu” had been commissioned by the NY Phil and Kostelanitz, so, I dunno, maybe the feeling that they had earned editorial rights was a function of feeling that they “owned” the composer on this occasion.

Personally, I find this story encouraging, both because there has been an occasion or two when my work was cut, in spite of my conviction of the value of the lost material;  partly because yesterday (per my blog post) was a story of discovering new music from the ashes of a disappointment.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: vandermolen on August 28, 2015, 12:26:02 PM
Coincidentally was listening to 'Odysseus Symphony' and Symphony 6 'Celestial Gate' today - both fine works.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on December 18, 2015, 11:05:27 AM
Thanks to Simon, I discovered this recording:



Revisiting this disc with rich pleasure this week.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Mirror Image on December 20, 2015, 06:43:02 AM
Coincidentally was listening to 'Odysseus Symphony' and Symphony 6 'Celestial Gate' today - both fine works.

Celestial Gate is certainly a fine work. Gorgeous music.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: schnittkease on September 16, 2017, 08:11:48 PM
The Vishnu Symphony remains my favorite Hovhaness work. So mesmerizing!
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: vandermolen on September 17, 2017, 02:57:12 AM
The Vishnu Symphony remains my favorite Hovhaness work. So mesmerizing!
I think that No.11 'All Men are Brothers' is possibly my favourite - but there are many others I like including, 'Exile', 'Odysseus', 'Mount St Helens' and 'Celestial Gate'.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: aukhawk on September 18, 2017, 02:32:37 AM
The Unicorn LP including Fra Angelico was mentioned on page 1 of this thread, and without trawling the intermediate x pages I'd go with that music as a good starter and my favourite Hovhaness, don't know about availability in a more recent recording or compilation.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on September 18, 2017, 02:39:03 AM
I think Lousadzak an excellent starting point.

And maybe I have already said so  8)
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: vandermolen on September 18, 2017, 02:56:08 AM
Also, a plug here for 'Meditation on Orpheus'.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: kyjo on September 18, 2017, 10:58:29 AM
I really enjoy his Symphony no. 60 To the Appalachian Mountains, especially its folksy second movement.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: vandermolen on September 19, 2017, 01:14:45 AM
I really enjoy his Symphony no. 60 To the Appalachian Mountains, especially its folksy second movement.
Yes, I agree - a very enjoyable work.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Mirror Image on January 03, 2018, 11:50:40 AM
Cross-posted from the ‘Purchases’ thread -

Placed a Hovhaness order:

(https://d27t0qkxhe4r68.cloudfront.net/t_900/636943975527.jpg?1419333266) (https://d27t0qkxhe4r68.cloudfront.net/t_900/636943933626.jpg?1401982553) (https://d27t0qkxhe4r68.cloudfront.net/t_900/636943915820.jpg?1401982553)

(https://d27t0qkxhe4r68.cloudfront.net/t_900/636943971727.jpg?1401982553) (https://d27t0qkxhe4r68.cloudfront.net/t_900/636943929421.jpg?1401982553) (https://cdn.naxosmusiclibrary.com/sharedfiles/images/cds/hires/CrystalCD801.jpg)

(https://cdn.naxosmusiclibrary.com/sharedfiles/images/cds/hires/CrystalCD811.jpg) (https://cdn.naxosmusiclibrary.com/sharedfiles/images/cds/hires/CrystalCD807.jpg) (https://cdn.naxosmusiclibrary.com/sharedfiles/images/cds/hires/CrystalCD802.jpg)

(https://cdn.naxosmusiclibrary.com/sharedfiles/images/cds/hires/CrystalCD804.jpg) (https://cdn.naxosmusiclibrary.com/sharedfiles/images/cds/hires/CrystalCD805.jpg) (https://cdn.naxosmusiclibrary.com/sharedfiles/images/cds/hires/CrystalCD803.jpg)

(https://cdn.naxosmusiclibrary.com/sharedfiles/images/cds/hires/CrystalCD810.jpg) (https://cdn.naxosmusiclibrary.com/sharedfiles/images/cds/hires/DE3162.jpg) (https://img.discogs.com/6DMDpy7MJFmi6LycNJqJSZWIHDg=/fit-in/600x600/filters:strip_icc():format(jpeg):mode_rgb():quality(90)/discogs-images/R-6881975-1428716365-4627.jpeg.jpg)

(https://pxhst.co/avaxhome/38/7f/00097f38.jpeg)

Can anyone offer any feedback on any of these recordings? Did I make some nice selections? I wouldn’t say I’m a complete Hovhaness novice, but there is a large gap in works that I’ve heard by this composer. I will say with great certainty that what I’ve heard so far has been immensely enjoyable.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Mirror Image on January 03, 2018, 01:09:45 PM
Also, a plug here for 'Meditation on Orpheus'.

Oh, this is a fine work, indeed, Jeffrey. There are some aggressive moments that sort of put Hovhaness into a different kind of compositional light.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: vandermolen on January 03, 2018, 02:33:36 PM
Cross-posted from the ‘Purchases’ thread -

Can anyone offer any feedback on any of these recordings? Did I make some nice selections? I wouldn’t say I’m a complete Hovhaness novice, but there is a large gap in works that I’ve heard by this composer. I will say with great certainty that what I’ve heard so far has been immensely enjoyable.

I have all those CDs John ( ::))
There is not a 'dud' amongst them - I enjoy them all.
As to high points - for me they would include Symphony 11 'All Men are Brothers' which has a movingly cathartic conclusion, which I'm sure you'll enjoy. Also the Naxos CD which combines the 'Exile Symphony' (No.1) with No.50 'Mount St Helens' is terrific. It combines two of the most memorable Delos recordings of Hovhaness's symphonies. Symphony 50'is possibly my favourite of the ones I know. 'City of Light' and 'Odysseus' as well as 'Celestial Gate' are all fine works as is the 'Spirit Murmur' disc of chamber-like works. Finally 'Saint Vartan' is an attractively oriental and exotic work. I like those old Crystal recordings. You have a treat in store for you! Some critics are very dismissive of Hovhaness's music, quoting its emphasis on 'atmosphere' rather than 'argument', however I respond to his music and always enjoy it at an emotional and aesthetic level.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Mirror Image on January 03, 2018, 03:05:17 PM
I have all those CDs John ( ::))
There is not a 'dud' amongst them - I enjoy them all.
As to high points - for me they would include Symphony 11 'All Men are Brothers' which has a movingly cathartic conclusion, which I'm sure you'll enjoy. Also the Naxos CD which combines the 'Exile Symphony' (No.1) with No.50 'Mount St Helens' is terrific. It combines two of the most memorable Delos recordings of Hovhaness's symphonies. Symphony 50'is possibly my favourite of the ones I know. 'City of Light' and 'Odysseus' as well as 'Celestial Gate' are all fine works as is the 'Spirit Murmur' disc of chamber-like works. Finally 'Saint Vartan' is an attractively oriental and exotic work. I like those old Crystal recordings. You have a treat in store for you! Some critics are very dismissive of Hovhaness's music, quoting its emphasis on 'atmosphere' rather than 'argument', however I respond to his music and always enjoy it at an emotional and aesthetic level.

Excellent, Jeffrey! Somehow I had a feeling you owned all of these discs. ;) :) Of course, I’ve probably heard more Hovhaness works than I mentioned. I recall Celestial Gate being excellent. You mentioned Symphony No. 11 “All Men are Brothers” and I do remember this one --- very enjoyable work, indeed. As for the critics, well...not all of them feel this way and those that do, I could really careless, because everyone has a right to their opinion regardless if I agree or disagree. You may remember reading this, but I seem to recall that Hovhaness didn’t handle criticism well at all. He burned nearly 500 compositions after attending Tanglewood as Bernstein made some comment about the piano work of Hovhaness' he was playing only to stop and say something along the lines of ”Cheap, ghetto music”. I’m paraphrasing here as I don’t remember the exact quote. Interestingly enough Hovhaness found support from composers like John Cage and Lou Harrison. This negative snipe from Bernstein may have had a positive effect in the end as it was at this point after burning all of these early compositions that Hovhaness found his ‘voice’ as he turned to his Armenian roots and the rest as they say was musical history. 8)
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Mirror Image on January 03, 2018, 03:31:37 PM
Added these two recordings to my initial order:

(https://cps-static.rovicorp.com/3/JPG_500/MI0000/987/MI0000987527.jpg?partner=allrovi.com) (https://cps-static.rovicorp.com/3/JPG_500/MI0001/008/MI0001008560.jpg?partner=allrovi.com)

I’m sure you own these as well, Jeffrey. ;)
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: kyjo on January 03, 2018, 04:43:27 PM
I haven't heard a Hovhaness work I haven't liked. I particularly enjoy Symphonies 2 (Mysterious Mountain), 3, 22 (City of Light), 46 (To the Green Mountains), and 60 (To the Appalachian Mountains), the Guitar (no. 1) and Cello Concertos, Khrimian Hairig, The Prayer of St. Gregory, Prelude and Quadruple Fugue, and the three Armenian Rhapsodies. There's so much I've yet to explore... :)
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Mirror Image on January 03, 2018, 04:51:59 PM
I haven't heard a Hovhaness work I haven't liked. I particularly enjoy Symphonies 2 (Mysterious Mountain), 3, 22 (City of Light), 46 (To the Green Mountains), and 60 (To the Appalachian Mountains), the Guitar (no. 1) and Cello Concertos, Khrimian Hairig, The Prayer of St. Gregory, Prelude and Quadruple Fugue, and the three Armenian Rhapsodies. There's so much I've yet to explore... :)

Same here, Kyle. He had such a distinctive compositional voice. Have you heard Meditation on Orpheus? Awesome work that I just discovered today thanks to Jeffrey’s post about it.

https://www.youtube.com/v/deGFj_Q0RoM
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: kyjo on January 03, 2018, 04:59:40 PM
Same here, Kyle. He had such a distinctive compositional voice. Have you heard Meditation on Orpheus? Awesome work that I just discovered today thanks to Jeffrey’s post about it.

https://www.youtube.com/v/deGFj_Q0RoM

Nope, I haven't; I'll definitely check it out!
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Mirror Image on January 03, 2018, 05:01:26 PM
Nope, I haven't; I'll definitely check it out!

Since I enjoyed the work so much, I downloaded just this track from the Schwarz recording (reissued with Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloe). I’ve listened to it about three times. The end is rather startling for Hovhaness.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Mirror Image on January 03, 2018, 07:04:25 PM
Added another Hovhaness recording to my order:

(https://d27t0qkxhe4r68.cloudfront.net/t_900/044747295428.jpg?1401982484)
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: vandermolen on January 03, 2018, 11:35:47 PM
Added these two recordings to my initial order:

(https://cps-static.rovicorp.com/3/JPG_500/MI0000/987/MI0000987527.jpg?partner=allrovi.com) (https://cps-static.rovicorp.com/3/JPG_500/MI0001/008/MI0001008560.jpg?partner=allrovi.com)

I’m sure you own these as well, Jeffrey. ;)

Actually John there is a CD here which I don't have  :o ???
The Armenian Rhapsody one. I feel a bout of panicky OCD purchasing coming on!
That encounter with Bernstein was interesting and I'm pleased that the likes of Lou Harrison were supportive of Hovhaness. I have a great CD featuring Hovhaness's 'Mysterious Mountain' Symphony 2 with a moving and enjoyable Lou Harrison symphony ('Elegiac'). Yes 'Meditations on Orpheus' is one of my favourite Hovhaness works.


Also good:


I listened again to 'Meditation on Orpheus' from the link which you kindly posted above. Yes, the ending is quite unusual for Hovhaness! That work covers a wide emotional range in only twelve minutes!
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Mirror Image on January 04, 2018, 06:29:40 AM
Actually John there is a CD here which I don't have  :o ???
The Armenian Rhapsody one. I feel a bout of panicky OCD purchasing coming on!
That encounter with Bernstein was interesting and I'm pleased that the likes of Lou Harrison were supportive of Hovhaness. I have a great CD featuring Hovhaness's 'Mysterious Mountain' Symphony 2 with a moving and enjoyable Lou Harrison symphony ('Elegiac'). Yes 'Meditations on Orpheus' is one of my favourite Hovhaness works.


Also good:


I listened again to 'Meditation on Orpheus' from the link which you kindly posted above. Yes, the ending is quite unusual for Hovhaness! That work covers a wide emotional range in only twelve minutes!

Yes, that is a fantastic Mysterious Mountain from Davies, Jeffrey (along with the Lou Harrison). I would still say, however, that Reiner’s performance of Mysterious Mountain is my favorite. I mean the CSO performing Hovhaness is an exciting prospect within itself! I sampled a bit of this Armenian Rhapsodies recording with Schwarz on YouTube (or some site that I forget about) and I had to buy the disc immediately after. It was that good!
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Mirror Image on January 04, 2018, 06:34:23 AM
This is all Jeffrey’s fault, I just bought the following:

(http://cps-static.rovicorp.com/3/JPG_500/MI0003/474/MI0003474960.jpg?partner=allrovi.com)

:D

The Concerto for Two Pianos sounds quite interesting.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: vandermolen on January 04, 2018, 07:45:04 AM
This is all Jeffrey’s fault, I just bought the following:

(http://cps-static.rovicorp.com/3/JPG_500/MI0003/474/MI0003474960.jpg?partner=allrovi.com)

:D

The Concerto for Two Pianos sounds quite interesting.

It's a great CD if I remember correctly John, with detailed notes. Don't be put off by the lengthy spoken introduction - in Russian!  8)
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Mirror Image on January 04, 2018, 07:47:45 AM
It's a great CD if I remember correctly John, with detailed notes. Don't be put off by the lengthy spoken introduction - in Russian!  8)

No worries, Jeffrey. I can always skip over that or just edit it out completely when I go to rip the disc. ;)
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: vandermolen on January 04, 2018, 07:48:41 AM
This is all Jeffrey’s fault, I just bought the following:

(http://cps-static.rovicorp.com/3/JPG_500/MI0003/474/MI0003474960.jpg?partner=allrovi.com)

:D

The Concerto for Two Pianos sounds quite interesting.

Indeed - I felt that it was important to torment you with an obscure, though desirable, Hovhaness CD which I thought might well not already be in your collection!
 8)
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Mirror Image on January 04, 2018, 07:51:00 AM
Indeed - I felt that it was important to torment you with an obscure, though desirable, Hovhaness CD which I thought might well not already be in your collection!
 8)

Your taunting paid off for sure! :D
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Mirror Image on January 04, 2018, 08:10:16 AM
My impression of Hovhaness is that he simply has a very limited range, everything I've heard of him conveys a similar impression.  If you have one of his symphonies the other hundred or so are redundant.  Get the Reiner recording, and maybe that nice Telarc disc and your collection is complete.

An older post, I know, but I feel the same way about Milhaud and Tansman. Two composers you’ve been quite taken with recently. I have yet to hear a work by Hovhaness that I didn’t at least enjoy in some way. I do agree that a little Hovhaness goes a long way, especially if you’re not really into his style. What I love about his music is compared to so many other composers during his time, he went his own way, but as to whether this particular way was successful or not is dependent upon the listener. But, this listener, loves his style and the whole idea of freeing himself and just doing what he wanted appeals to me greatly. Thankfully, for me, the music is gorgeous and, at times, haunting and even frightening. Of course, I respect your opinion and can even sympathize, but there’s something about his music that just grabs me.

This will be unrelated to Scarpia’s post, but I remember reading a short biography on the composer and his musical education is quite impressive. He studied with Frederick Converse at the New England Conservatory of Music, but had received much formal training with many teachers prior to Converse (Roger Sessions was someone who took an interest in his music). Hovhaness’ grounding in classical music and it’s tradition is admirable. He was initially inspired Schubert’s lieder and Bach, but his greatest influence was Sibelius. A composer whom he had a correspondence with for many years. It was after this Sibelius influence that he decided that he must not listen to any other music but what he heard in his head so he wouldn’t become influenced by anything else. It was his fascination with Armenian music and it’s culture in which he found his compositional voice. Wow...I didn’t intend for this to become a mini-biography within itself! :)
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Mirror Image on January 04, 2018, 09:11:17 AM
Another one added to the already rather large pile:

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/81NEJtEnW9L._SX522_.jpg)
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Mirror Image on January 04, 2018, 10:05:31 AM
Why isn't Hovhaness on this list and who determines who’s a maverick and who’s not? What are the qualifications for being an ‘American maverick’?

http://americanmavericks.org/meet-the-mavericks

An amusing read nevertheless.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Baron Scarpia on January 04, 2018, 10:12:43 AM
An older post, I know, but I feel the same way about Milhaud and Tansman. Two composers you’ve been quite taken with recently. I have yet to hear a work by Hovhaness that I didn’t at least enjoy in some way.

I can't say I've listened to any Hovhaness since writing that post. My knowledge of his works is limited to the Reiner recording and the one other disc. It was impressive, but didn't result in curiosity to hear more.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on January 04, 2018, 10:25:02 AM
I can't say I've listened to any Hovhaness since writing that post. My knowledge of his works is limited to the Reiner recording and the one other disc. It was impressive, but didn't result in curiosity to hear more.

It may or may not be your thing anyway, but it is a change from Mysterious Mountain (not that I find any fault in it):

http://www.youtube.com/v/JlLjtie9xJk
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Mirror Image on January 04, 2018, 10:26:40 AM
I can't say I've listened to any Hovhaness since writing that post. My knowledge of his works is limited to the Reiner recording and the one other disc. It was impressive, but didn't result in curiosity to hear more.

Yeah, that Reiner disc is quite fine and it was this very performance of Mysterious Mountain that turned me onto Hovhaness’ work.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Mirror Image on January 04, 2018, 10:30:36 AM
It may or may not be your thing anyway, but it is a change from Mysterious Mountain (not that I find any fault in it):

http://www.youtube.com/v/JlLjtie9xJk

Oh....I don’t have that one! Time to remedy that!

Just bought:

(https://img.discogs.com/1HQ9m4UFORtFiEvL96qNwTBR0Ug=/fit-in/500x500/filters:strip_icc():format(jpeg):mode_rgb():quality(90)/discogs-images/R-7433485-1441432781-7900.jpeg.jpg) (https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51sKKY1WIiL.jpg)
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: vandermolen on January 04, 2018, 01:23:19 PM
Your taunting paid off for sure! :D
You'll enjoy it. Of that I have no doubt.
 :)

I'm sure that Mysterious Mountain shows the influence of Vaughan Williams's 'Tallis Fantasia'.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Mirror Image on January 04, 2018, 01:24:32 PM
You'll enjoy it. Of that I have no doubt.
 :)

Very cool, Jeffrey. 8) Did you see my two latest purchases? I’m curious if you’ve heard those discs?
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: vandermolen on January 04, 2018, 01:26:24 PM
Very cool, Jeffrey. 8) Did you see my two latest purchases? I’m curious if you’ve heard those discs?

Yes, I have both of those John and have played both several times with much pleasure.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Mirror Image on January 04, 2018, 01:28:41 PM
Yes, I have both of those John and have played both several times with much pleasure.

Excellent to hear, Jeffrey. Good to see you’re as into this composer as I am. As a consequence, I joined the Hovhaness group on Facebook. Seems like a nifty hangout.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Mirror Image on January 04, 2018, 03:04:44 PM
Yes, I agree that Hanson is a greater composer than Hovhaness, especially symphonies 1-4 and the Bold Island Suite. His music has greater integrity and more depth.

An older post of yours, Jeffrey, but I have to disagree. I think comparing Hanson and Hovhaness is like comparing apples/oranges. Both composers couldn’t be more different. Hovhaness is very much of his own idiom and is far removed from what so many composers were doing except for perhaps Lou Harrison’s forays into Gamelan music for example, but Hovhaness had been writing this kind of music as far back as the mid-30s. I also have to laugh at whoever deemed Hovhaness to be the ‘American Sibelius’ or even how that even got started. What a ludicrous comparison. Not because I think one composer is better than the other, because, again, Hovhaness is so different than his own contemporaries and the composers that came before him. Hanson, on the other hand, was very much a composer that was more traditional in terms of rhythm, harmony, etc. Of course, I’m not putting Hanson down as I love a lot of his music, but these comparisons just don’t make a lot of sense to me, especially given that I have heard a good bit of Hovhaness’ music now but certainly not ALL of it! ;D

Edit: Sorry to call you out like this on an older post, Jeffrey, but there’s not much else happening on this thread other than me re-posting what I just bought. :P
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Mirror Image on January 04, 2018, 03:11:54 PM
Why isn't Hovhaness on this list and who determines who’s a maverick and who’s not? What are the qualifications for being an ‘American maverick’?

http://americanmavericks.org/meet-the-mavericks

An amusing read nevertheless.

Does anyone have an opinion on this?
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Mirror Image on January 04, 2018, 10:17:20 PM
By golly! I just realized how I found out about Hovhaness. Eight years I purchased this book and there was a section devoted to composers who were ‘outside of the American mainstream’ so to speak and Hovhaness was one of the featured composers.

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/91BMoUmUIML.jpg)
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: vandermolen on January 05, 2018, 12:38:32 AM
An older post of yours, Jeffrey, but I have to disagree. I think comparing Hanson and Hovhaness is like comparing apples/oranges. Both composers couldn’t be more different. Hovhaness is very much of his own idiom and is far removed from what so many composers were doing except for perhaps Lou Harrison’s forays into Gamelan music for example, but Hovhaness had been writing this kind of music as far back as the mid-30s. I also have to laugh at whoever deemed Hovhaness to be the ‘American Sibelius’ or even how that even got started. What a ludicrous comparison. Not because I think one composer is better than the other, because, again, Hovhaness is so different than his own contemporaries and the composers that came before him. Hanson, on the other hand, was very much a composer that was more traditional in terms of rhythm, harmony, etc. Of course, I’m not putting Hanson down as I love a lot of his music, but these comparisons just don’t make a lot of sense to me, especially given that I have heard a good bit of Hovhaness’ music now but certainly not ALL of it! ;D

Edit: Sorry to call you out like this on an older post, Jeffrey, but there’s not much else happening on this thread other than me re-posting what I just bought. :P

How interesting! No problem at all John. Actually over the past ten years my view has changed and I think that you are right. I now have a higher opinion of Hovhaness's music and no longer agree with my earlier comments. I admire both composers for their own particular qualities.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on January 05, 2018, 03:05:41 AM
Does anyone have an opinion on this?

My opinion is that musical maverick is a tedious buzzphrase which deserves to be retired permanently.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Mirror Image on January 05, 2018, 06:51:02 AM
My opinion is that musical maverick is a tedious buzzphrase which deserves to be retired permanently.

I couldn’t agree more, Karl. Cheap marketing IMHO.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Mirror Image on January 05, 2018, 06:51:34 AM
How interesting! No problem at all John. Actually over the past ten years my view has changed and I think that you are right. I now have a higher opinion of Hovhaness's music and no longer agree with my earlier comments. I admire both composers for their own particular qualities.

Great to hear, Jeffrey! 8)
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: vandermolen on January 05, 2018, 01:27:33 PM
This is one of my favourite Hovhaness CDs, especially for the Symphony 6: 'Celestial Gate':

Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Mirror Image on January 05, 2018, 03:18:18 PM
This is one of my favourite Hovhaness CDs, especially for the Symphony 6: 'Celestial Gate':



Celestial Gate is a fine work, Jeffrey. I’m resisting this recording at the moment since I do believe I have enough Hovhaness on the way now. ;)
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: vandermolen on January 06, 2018, 01:00:32 AM
Celestial Gate is a fine work, Jeffrey. I’m resisting this recording at the moment since I do believe I have enough Hovhaness on the way now. ;)

I'll be very interested to hear your views on the music when the CDs turn up John.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on January 06, 2018, 06:19:01 AM
This is one of my favourite Hovhaness CDs, especially for the Symphony 6: 'Celestial Gate':



+ 1
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Mirror Image on January 06, 2018, 06:52:48 AM
I'll be very interested to hear your views on the music when the CDs turn up John.

I can tell you (so far) that I enjoy his symphonies more than any of the concerti I’ve heard. Maybe my view will change, but I will say, of the concerti, I like the Cello Concerto and the Harp Concerto the best.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Mirror Image on January 06, 2018, 05:44:43 PM
I guess my Hovhaness phase was short lived! :P I guess I just need a bit more grit in my music.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: André on January 06, 2018, 07:29:34 PM
I guess my Hovhaness phase was short lived! :P I guess I just need a bit more grit in my music.

Wait ! You haven’t received your christmas presents yet !  ;). You are in danger of succumbing to hovhanessian gluttony...!

More than most composers whose idiom is immediately recognizable, Hovhaness confined himself in a narrow spectrum of harmonies, rythmic gestures, etc. If that musicall idiom is any good, it’s a recipe for short term success but it curbs the long term appeal of his music. Personally I love it, but in small doses. Since it’s been at least 2 years I didn’t hear anything by him, I’m due for a few repeat performances from the discs I already have. If I survive, I might even buy some more  ;D.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Mirror Image on January 06, 2018, 07:55:29 PM
Wait ! You haven’t received your christmas presents yet !  ;). You are in danger of succumbing to hovhanessian gluttony...!

More than most composers whose idiom is immediately recognizable, Hovhaness confined himself in a narrow spectrum of harmonies, rythmic gestures, etc. If that musicall idiom is any good, it’s a recipe for short term success but it curbs the long term appeal of his music. Personally I love it, but in small doses. Since it’s been at least 2 years I didn’t hear anything by him, I’m due for a few repeat performances from the discs I already have. If I survive, I might even buy some more  ;D.

Hah! :D I think you hit the nail on the head and I actually have to concede to Scarpia in saying that the appeal of this composer is limited to only a few works. I’ll go ahead and say it: his concerti are tedious and a chore to sit through. I revisited the Cello Concerto earlier and I almost feel asleep. No joke! I guess, for me, I like composers who have more edge in their compositional style --- I like a bit more drama. Hovhaness may have not been too worried about creating this kind of tension, but it’d be nice to have some kind of point of access as the music is floating in the air and it goes right over my head. I’ll also concede to Jeffrey in that Hanson is most definitely more of my kind of composer (since his name was brought up). Hovhaness would have done well to have been much more self-critical. I’d rather hear 5 outstanding works than 50 mediocre ones.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: kyjo on January 06, 2018, 10:30:45 PM
Hah! :D I think you hit the nail on the head and I actually have to concede to Scarpia in saying that the appeal of this composer is limited to only a few works. I’ll go ahead and say it: his concerti are tedious and a chore to sit through. I revisited the Cello Concerto earlier and I almost feel asleep. No joke! I guess, for me, I like composers who have more edge in their compositional style --- I like a bit more drama. Hovhaness may have not been too worried about creating this kind of tension, but it’d be nice to have some kind of point of access as the music is floating in the air and it goes right over my head. I’ll also concede to Jeffrey in that Hanson is most definitely more of my kind of composer (since his name was brought up). Hovhaness would have done well to have been much more self-critical. I’d rather hear 5 outstanding works than 50 mediocre ones.

Hah! I was waiting for you to change your mind on Hovhaness! :P I largely agree with both you and Andre - Hovhaness is certainly a worthy and unique composer, but his compositional language and emotional range are just too limited to make me want to return to his music often.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: vandermolen on January 07, 2018, 02:26:27 AM
Wait ! You haven’t received your christmas presents yet !  ;). You are in danger of succumbing to hovhanessian gluttony...!

More than most composers whose idiom is immediately recognizable, Hovhaness confined himself in a narrow spectrum of harmonies, rythmic gestures, etc. If that musicall idiom is any good, it’s a recipe for short term success but it curbs the long term appeal of his music. Personally I love it, but in small doses. Since it’s been at least 2 years I didn’t hear anything by him, I’m due for a few repeat performances from the discs I already have. If I survive, I might even buy some more  ;D.

I very much agree with this. However, I do return to some of his works regularly, the 'Meditation on Orpheus' the 'Exile Symphony' and Symphony 50 for example (both together on a Naxos CD). I remember going with my older brother to a concert some years ago which featured Elgar's Symphony 2 and Moeran's Symphony,which is one of my favourites. My brother said that it was like listening to the music of 'the master' (Elgar) and 'the pupil' (Moeran), but I disagreed because, although Elgar was probably the greater composer, Moeran was attempting something quite different in his symphony. Hovhaness was, at one level, limited as a composer but if you are prepared to accept it on its own terms his often powerfully atmospheric music is rewarding . That's my view anyway!  :)
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: André on January 07, 2018, 06:40:18 AM
Gerard Schwarz record the 50th symphony « Mount St Helens » twice, and I have both recordings. IIRC the first (with the Seattle SO) had more oomph. I’ll probably start with this comparison. My favourite movement is the first, with its brooding, uneasy atmosphere. However, since I hate listening to that kind of huge sonic display with earphones, I’ll have to wait until the house is clear for a minimum of 2 hours  :D
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Mirror Image on January 07, 2018, 07:51:36 AM
Hah! I was waiting for you to change your mind on Hovhaness! :P I largely agree with both you and Andre - Hovhaness is certainly a worthy and unique composer, but his compositional language and emotional range are just too limited to make me want to return to his music often.

;) Yeah, after listening to many of his works I was thinking, at first, that this is such a unique composer that’s doing something different, but then I later realized he’s doing the same thing over and over again. There are a few exceptions like the Vishnu Symphony and the Symphony of Metal Instruments, but these are experimental works and, for me, don’t quite engage me emotionally. From a cerebral point-of-view, I find these two afore mentioned symphonies quite interesting, but they’re novelties and really nothing more for me. So that’s my current opinion after having spent a day or two with a lot of his music.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: vandermolen on January 07, 2018, 01:28:07 PM
Gerard Schwarz record the 50th symphony « Mount St Helens » twice, and I have both recordings. IIRC the first (with the Seattle SO) had more oomph. I’ll probably start with this comparison. My favourite movement is the first, with its brooding, uneasy atmosphere. However, since I hate listening to that kind of huge sonic display with earphones, I’ll have to wait until the house is clear for a minimum of 2 hours  :D
Yes, that first movement of Symphony 50 is perhaps my favourite Hovhaness symphony moment, especially in the Delos performance which made a big impact on me when it first appeared.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Zeus on January 14, 2018, 05:52:04 PM
Here's an interesting question – which of Hovhaness' works sounds least like his typical sound? 

I think there are probably some Hovhaness outliers out there that are worth exploring.

Off the top of my head, two albums come to mind:

Hovhaness: Janabar, Talin, Shambala
(http://www.hovhaness.com/IMAGES/CD_Shambala_Large.jpg)

Hovhaness: Ode to the Temple of Sound, etc
(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51WBwtzqNVL._SS500.jpg)

I'm curious to hear what relatively exotic works by Hovhaness people have heard.  Anything not recognizable?

By the way, the Shambala is a sitar concerto – that's fairly exotic instrumentation at least.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: vandermolen on January 15, 2018, 01:51:51 AM
Here's an interesting question – which of Hovhaness' works sounds least like his typical sound? 

I think there are probably some Hovhaness outliers out there that are worth exploring.

Off the top of my head, two albums come to mind:

Hovhaness: Janabar, Talin, Shambala
(http://www.hovhaness.com/IMAGES/CD_Shambala_Large.jpg)

Hovhaness: Ode to the Temple of Sound, etc
(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51WBwtzqNVL._SS500.jpg)

I'm curious to hear what relatively exotic works by Hovhaness people have heard.  Anything not recognizable?

By the way, the Shambala is a sitar concerto – that's fairly exotic instrumentation at least.
The ending of 'Meditation on Orpheus', presumably depicting the decapitation of Orpheus is uncharacteristically violent for Hovhaness (notwithstanding the musical depiction of the eruption of Mount St Helens in Symphony 50). Those are two of my favourite Hovhaness compositions.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Mirror Image on January 15, 2018, 08:09:03 AM
The ending of 'Meditation on Orpheus', presumably depicting the decapitation of Orpheus is uncharacteristically violent for Hovhaness (notwithstanding the musical depiction of the eruption of Mount St Helens in Symphony 50). Those are two of my favourite Hovhaness compositions.

Mine too, Jeffrey, although I do still love Symphony No. 2, “Mysterious Mountain”.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Zeus on January 15, 2018, 08:30:12 AM
Nice ending! Thanks for the tip.

I'm gonna state for the record that AFAIK Shambala is his most unique composition.  It's quite long for one thing (45 minutes), and with the sitar there are moments when it almost, almost, doesn't sound like Hovhaness.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: vandermolen on January 17, 2018, 12:15:44 PM
Here's an interesting question – which of Hovhaness' works sounds least like his typical sound? 

I think there are probably some Hovhaness outliers out there that are worth exploring.

Off the top of my head, two albums come to mind:

Hovhaness: Janabar, Talin, Shambala
(http://www.hovhaness.com/IMAGES/CD_Shambala_Large.jpg)

Hovhaness: Ode to the Temple of Sound, etc
(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51WBwtzqNVL._SS500.jpg)

I'm curious to hear what relatively exotic works by Hovhaness people have heard.  Anything not recognizable?

By the way, the Shambala is a sitar concerto – that's fairly exotic instrumentation at least.
I think that Symphony 25 'Odysseus' is a rather 'spikier' work than some although it has characteristic moments and an affirmative sense of home-coming towards the end. It's companion Symphony 6 'Celestial Gate' is one I especially like and often play.




Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: vandermolen on March 12, 2019, 08:20:49 AM
A recommendation for Symphony 29 for Trombone and Band on this very appealing Hovhaness compilation. I'm sorry that the poetic and eloquent Meditation on Orpheus is missing as it originally was coupled with Omar Khayyam on an earlier Delos release utilising the same cover image of Michael York:
(http://)
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on March 12, 2019, 09:54:18 AM
A recommendation for Symphony 29 for Trombone and Band
(http://)


That must be a nice piece.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: vandermolen on March 12, 2019, 10:46:02 AM
Mine too, Jeffrey, although I do still love Symphony No. 2, “Mysterious Mountain”.
Me too John, especially in Reiner's recording but others as well.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: vandermolen on March 12, 2019, 10:48:16 AM
That must be a nice piece.
I thought of you Karl when I was listening to it and thought it would probably be your cup of tea (or glass of root beer  8))
Certainly a very enjoyable piece.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: aukhawk on March 13, 2019, 02:38:35 AM
Fra Angelico (the original LP sleeve)

(https://img.discogs.com/Ihrt1C3RgGjxc-vT3ilFMV1IyYA=/fit-in/576x586/filters:strip_icc():format(jpeg):mode_rgb():quality(90)/discogs-images/R-5371692-1391738227-8986.jpeg.jpg)
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: vandermolen on March 13, 2019, 04:24:08 AM
Fra Angelico (the original LP sleeve)

(https://img.discogs.com/Ihrt1C3RgGjxc-vT3ilFMV1IyYA=/fit-in/576x586/filters:strip_icc():format(jpeg):mode_rgb():quality(90)/discogs-images/R-5371692-1391738227-8986.jpeg.jpg)

Very nice. Symphony 11 'All Men are Brothers' is one of my favourites.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: SymphonicAddict on May 10, 2019, 06:47:39 PM
It's always fascinating when finding videos of composers talking about their lifes or other topics. This is a short documentary cut in 3 parts (when YouTube only allowed videos of 10 minutes long, I guess) about Hovhaness. Needless to say it was very very interesting. Now I want to share it with you:

http://www.youtube.com/v/zt29-ZcFaEI

http://www.youtube.com/v/NWC5Nvw3dI8

http://www.youtube.com/v/hKYnIvy3P1E
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: vandermolen on May 11, 2019, 01:26:17 PM
It's always fascinating when finding videos of composers talking about their lifes or other topics. This is a short documentary cut in 3 parts (when YouTube only allowed videos of 10 minutes long, I guess) about Hovhaness. Needless to say it was very very interesting. Now I want to share it with you:

http://www.youtube.com/v/zt29-ZcFaEI

http://www.youtube.com/v/NWC5Nvw3dI8

http://www.youtube.com/v/hKYnIvy3P1E
Thank you Cesar for posting this. What a fascinating insight into Hovhaness's life and work. I'd never heard him talk before. He comes across as a very endearing and self-effacing man and I loved the story of his writing a score in a lorry drivers cafe with some difficulty. His wife Hinako seems equally charming and the seem very happy together. I'm inclined to agree with him that Symphony 50 'Mount St Helens' might be his finest symphony. I also liked the extract from Symphony 28, dedicated to his Armenian grandmother, which I'd never recalled hearing before. Also his comments on Stravinsky and Sibelius are of great interest as are his spiritual views. Really enjoyed watching this  :)
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Mirror Image on May 12, 2019, 05:06:13 AM
It's always fascinating when finding videos of composers talking about their lifes or other topics. This is a short documentary cut in 3 parts (when YouTube only allowed videos of 10 minutes long, I guess) about Hovhaness. Needless to say it was very very interesting. Now I want to share it with you:

http://www.youtube.com/v/zt29-ZcFaEI

http://www.youtube.com/v/NWC5Nvw3dI8

http://www.youtube.com/v/hKYnIvy3P1E

For some odd reason, I’m not seeing any of these videos.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: André on May 12, 2019, 05:15:29 AM
For some odd reason, I’m not seeing any of these videos.

They seem to work fine. Will listen to them later this week  :)
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: schnittkease on May 12, 2019, 03:19:44 PM
Here are the raw links, if that helps:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zt29-ZcFaEI

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NWC5Nvw3dI8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hKYnIvy3P1E
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Roasted Swan on May 14, 2019, 11:29:54 AM
I'm no Hovhaness expert or particular fan but I did enjoy "Mysterious Mountain" in this collection

Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: SymphonicAddict on August 02, 2019, 04:10:38 PM
Hovhaness is the spiritual and esoteric hippie uncle of the family  :)
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: kyjo on August 02, 2019, 07:30:42 PM
Hovhaness is the spiritual and esoteric hippie uncle of the family  :)

No argument from me on that one! :D
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on August 03, 2019, 06:39:33 AM
Hovhaness is the spiritual and esoteric hippie uncle of the family  :)

Of the best sort!
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Mirror Image on June 21, 2020, 07:22:56 PM
I have to say I keep coming back to Hovhaness even after saying I dislike this or that about his music --- it has this strange hold over me. While I do believe he recycles the same compositional techniques and methods in many of his works, I still enjoy so much of his music. It does have staying power, IMHO. I kind of look at Hovhaness as having much in common aesthetically with Lou Harrison sans the Armenian influence of course. Does anyone else hear the same thing? I also detect a little bit of Colin McPhee in Hovhaness as well.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: vandermolen on June 21, 2020, 08:32:27 PM
I have to say I keep coming back to Hovhaness even after saying I dislike this or that about his music --- it has this strange hold over me. While I do believe he recycles the same compositional techniques and methods in many of his works, I still enjoy so much of his music. It does have staying power, IMHO. I kind of look at Hovhaness as having much in common aesthetically with Lou Harrison sans the Armenian influence of course. Does anyone else hear the same thing? I also detect a little bit of Colin McPhee in Hovhaness as well.
Yes, I do agree John about the Lou Harrison comparison and they feature together on a nice CD I have which includes both of their second symphonies and which I've been playing recently. I think that VW was an influence as well, especially the Tallis Fantasia, which I think we can hear in the 'Mysterious Mountain' symphony for example. Like the new avatar  :)
(http://)
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on June 22, 2020, 04:32:17 AM
Agreed that Hovhaness stays the course!
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Mirror Image on June 22, 2020, 04:36:13 AM
Yes, I do agree John about the Lou Harrison comparison and they feature together on a nice CD I have which includes both of their second symphonies and which I've been playing recently. I think that VW was an influence as well, especially the Tallis Fantasia, which I think we can hear in the 'Mysterious Mountain' symphony for example. Like the new avatar  :)
(http://)

Thanks, Jeffrey. That Hovhaness/Harrison recording is excellent. Yep, RVW was definitely an influence or, at least, I can detect it, I’d also say that Sibelius was a huge influence as he met the composer and had a 30 year correspondence with him, which I found to be fascinating. I’d love to read some of those letters. Anyway, the work Lousadzak actually landed the composer into some hot water. It was a praised by Lou Harrison, but it caused a mini-riot during intermission at its premiere from what I’ve read. Nobody had really heard anything like this before in Boston, so it was a bit of a shock to the system.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Mirror Image on June 22, 2020, 09:57:14 AM
Agreed that Hovhaness stays the course!

It appears his music has got under your skin as well, Karl. 8)

Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Mirror Image on June 22, 2020, 05:29:04 PM
Okay...I’m back to Shostakovich. ;D
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: vandermolen on June 22, 2020, 11:04:03 PM
Okay...I’m back to Shostakovich. ;D
Poor Hovhaness and I'm sure that Honegger is displeased as well  ;D

Interesting about the Hovhaness/Sibelius correspondence of which I was completely unaware - I agree with you that Sibelius was an influence John.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Mirror Image on June 23, 2020, 10:36:22 AM
Poor Hovhaness and I'm sure that Honegger is displeased as well  ;D

Interesting about the Hovhaness/Sibelius correspondence of which I was completely unaware - I agree with you that Sibelius was an influence John.

Yeah, I had to sack Hovhaness. He was getting on my nerves. ;)
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on June 23, 2020, 10:55:39 AM
Yeah, I had to sack Hovhaness. He was getting on my nerves. ;)

Saturation does not serve Hovhaness well.   :(
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Mirror Image on June 23, 2020, 11:01:36 AM
Saturation does not serve Hovhaness well.   :(

Indeed, not. A little bit goes a long way --- I agree.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: arpeggio on October 23, 2020, 09:31:50 AM
I have recently went on a quest to acquire all of the available symphonies of Hovhaness.  One can see the results in the "Purchases Today" thread.

As a result of my quest I discovered the Alan Hovhaness website:

http://hovhaness.com (http://hovhaness.com)

I checked the thread and I could not find any posts for the site.

This is a great website and a good resource for recordings.  Through it I was able to complete my collection.

 
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on October 23, 2020, 09:54:41 AM
I have recently went on a quest to acquire all of the available symphonies of Hovhaness.  One can see the results in the "Purchases Today" thread.

As a result of my quest I discovered the Alan Hovhaness website:

http://hovhaness.com (http://hovhaness.com)

I checked the thread and I could not find any posts for the site.

This is a great website and a good resource for recordings.  Through it I was able to complete my collection.

 

Excellent!
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: T. D. on October 23, 2020, 10:44:59 AM
+1, many thanks.
Recently discovered Hovhaness, not likely to go anywhere near the completist route but intend to "cherry-pick" a few recordings.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: relm1 on October 23, 2020, 04:11:32 PM
I have a friend who met him several times over the course of decades and even premiered some works with the Bridgeport University Orchestra (the conductor was Harrison Berlanti who was a pianist and harpsichordist who was very well connected with the East Coast music world at that time).  My friend recalls it was from 1969 through early 80's (perhaps longer but his involvement with that orchestra ended).  Hovhaness conducted a few of his pieces in several concerts over the years.  Hovhaness came in and sat down with them on the dress rehearsal of the concert featuring his music.  He said "I just finished this small piece, do you mind if we give it a reading" for a new piece that he had just finished and passed out hand written parts.  Friend doesn't remember the name of the piece but it was for full orchestra and brief.  They rehearsed it a few times right before the concert then Hovhaness decided to add it to the program and they played it in the concert as an unannounced work ("featuring a world premiere").  My friend encounters with him were pleasant experiences.  Some composers were crusty and not pleasant, but Hovhaness was consistently very gentle, very nice.   I asked if he recalled if Hovhaness was a genius or something and he just says that he recalls being in awe of him like he was when they played with Dave Brubeck, Yo-yo Ma, or Aaron Copeland.   Keep in mind, in this time frame, Yo-yo Ma was a local celebrity, not an international iconic figure I believe.  Friend said in the 70's, Hovhaness was much more popular and programmed than he is now.  He was fairly popular at the time but thinks he might have lost some of his popularity because he was so prolific but everything had sort of the same "drone or Russian feel...it became hard to tell one work apart from the rest". 
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on October 23, 2020, 07:22:12 PM
I have a friend who met him several times over the course of decades and even premiered some works with the Bridgeport University Orchestra (the conductor was Harrison Berlanti who was a pianist and harpsichordist who was very well connected with the East Coast music world at that time).  My friend recalls it was from 1969 through early 80's (perhaps longer but his involvement with that orchestra ended).  Hovhaness conducted a few of his pieces in several concerts over the years.  Hovhaness came in and sat down with them on the dress rehearsal of the concert featuring his music.  He said "I just finished this small piece, do you mind if we give it a reading" for a new piece that he had just finished and passed out hand written parts.  Friend doesn't remember the name of the piece but it was for full orchestra and brief.  They rehearsed it a few times right before the concert then Hovhaness decided to add it to the program and they played it in the concert as an unannounced work ("featuring a world premiere").  My friend encounters with him were pleasant experiences.  Some composers were crusty and not pleasant, but Hovhaness was consistently very gentle, very nice.   I asked if he recalled if Hovhaness was a genius or something and he just says that he recalls being in awe of him like he was when they played with Dave Brubeck, Yo-yo Ma, or Aaron Copeland.   Keep in mind, in this time frame, Yo-yo Ma was a local celebrity, not an international iconic figure I believe.  Friend said in the 70's, Hovhaness was much more popular and programmed than he is now.  He was fairly popular at the time but thinks he might have lost some of his popularity because he was so prolific but everything had sort of the same "drone or Russian feel...it became hard to tell one work apart from the rest". 

Very nice!
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: vandermolen on October 23, 2020, 10:44:28 PM
Very nice!
+1
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on April 13, 2021, 04:22:25 AM
Cross-post a day late:

First heard of this piece when I was in college. Being an uppity college student at the time, I dismissed the piece mentally, without having heard it.  It is high time I apologize to Hovhaness.

Maiden-Listen Monday:

Hovhaness
And God Created Great Whales

Philharmonia
David Amos

Today's addendum. Certainly a pleasant listen, but perhaps Grade B Hovhaness. I don't mean that "it has neither my blessing nor my curse." Overall I think well not only of the aural result, but especially of Kostelanetz's gesture of support in commissioning the work. Bottom line: Glad I got the disc,esp. for Elibris:

https://www.youtube.com/v/4Fq3nk-cfZM


It's also fun to see/hear how Richie (my budgie) responds to/interacts with the music we listen to ... and the whale song is completely new to him.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Mirror Image on August 29, 2021, 12:27:07 PM
I revisited two Hovhaness works today: Celestial Gate (“Symphony No. 6”) and Meditation on Orpheus. Both works were quite enjoyable. I found Meditation on Orpheus to be particularly mesmerizing.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: vandermolen on August 29, 2021, 09:21:01 PM
I revisited two Hovhaness works today: Celestial Gate (“Symphony No. 6”) and Meditation on Orpheus. Both works were quite enjoyable. I found Meditation on Orpheus to be particularly mesmerizing.
Those are two of my favourites by Hovhaness.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Maestro267 on August 30, 2021, 05:03:13 AM
I tried Hovhaness a few months back and found it largely too static. Not enough variety in ideas. They just come in large blocks of repeated sound. I was disappointed.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Mirror Image on August 30, 2021, 05:41:18 AM
Those are two of my favourites by Hovhaness.

They’re certainly good ones for sure. 8)

I tried Hovhaness a few months back and found it largely too static. Not enough variety in ideas. They just come in large blocks of repeated sound. I was disappointed.

This is a criticism that could be leveled at many composers: Messiaen and Bruckner come to mind.
Title: Re: Alan Hovhaness — Where to begin?
Post by: Mirror Image on August 30, 2021, 05:55:58 AM
Hovhaness isn’t everyday listening for me and he wouldn’t even be in my ‘Top 100’ composers list, but I do enjoy his works on occasion and they are beautiful when I hear them.