Marco Shirodkar’s website: http://www.hovhaness.com/Visions.html
Hovhaness worklist: http://www.musicweb-international.com/classRev/2000/feb00/hovanessworks.htm
Hovhaness works overview: http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2001/July01/HovhanessOverview.htm
The music of Alan Hovhaness has grown from cult
status and small numbers to approach the recorded mainstream and
a much larger following. Gone are the 1970s when ten or more austere
line drawing identically-sleeved LPs and a smattering of black
discs from Louisville and CBS carried the Hovhaness credentials.
Now there are many CDs although the works awaiting first recording
still far outnumber those already recorded.
Centaur push out the boundaries of recorded music
yet again. This time they have included in their project three
works never previously recorded - at least not commercially. The
fourth is presented complete for the first time.
Ode to the Temple of Sound was commissioned
for Barbirolli to open the Houston Symphony's 1966 season. It
is a prepossessing piece, with ecstatic tintinnabulation, imposing
awe, buzzing and whirring tension, the echo of Gagaku, intimations
of eternity and a Debussian timelessness.
Vahaken and the Ode are typically
otherworldly but Floating World is as strange and
dissonant as the Vishnu, Odysseus, Etchmiadzin
and Ani symphonies with its slowly groaning trombones
sounding like primeval creatures in rut. We are a stranger in
a strange land coming to terms which impinge on our consciousness
but are outside our understanding – something we cannot assimilate
easily. There is beauty there and we sense it but we cannot translate
it. The notes by Hovhaness authority Marco Shirodkar help us all
they can but ultimately we must just trust and listen again and
again. Hovhaness provides an orchestral fabric that rolls and
broils, punctuated with a long-gaited deep drumbeat, shimmering
and singing in vulnerable fragility.
Zeami Motokiyo was a 14th century Japanese playwright.
The Meditation on Zeami was written for Stokowski
for the Carnegie Hall in 1963. Like Floating World from
a year later it carries the imprint of the composer's Japanese
experiences of 1962. It's another work of haunting uncertainties,
of chiming bells and slow-blossoming ideas. Its very refusal to
rush lends it magic. Its dissonant moments are resolved into a
continuum that casts a strong enchantment.
The Vahaken Symphony takes its name
from Armenian paganism. Vahagn was the god of wind, strength and
courage. This compact three movement work takes us through a silky
seamless string anthem underpinned by a flute passing remora-like
as a shadow under the strings. Holstian energy meets slowly dissipating
sheets of trombone legato. String pizzicato launches some folksy
dances. The sweet central Intermezzo recalls the Fauré
Pavane. The last movement combines elements of andante
and allegro. Unison strings enunciate a curvaceous long-breathed
melody borne high by tubular bells and a deep baritonal pizzicato.
An oriental sway rises to a whirling celebratory temple dance.