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Katherine HOOVER (born 1937)
Two Sketches Op.42 (1985/9)a
Eleni: A Greek Tragedy Op.36 (1986)b
Double Concerto Op.40 (1989)c
Night Skies Op.46 (1992)a
Denisa Danielova (mezzo-soprano)b; David Perry, Suzanne Beia (violins)c; Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestraab; The Wisconsin Philomusicac; Joel Eric Subenab, Vartan Manoogianc
Recorded: Slovensky Rozhlas, Bratislava, 1995 (Eleni, Night Skies) and 1997 (Two Sketches); University of Wisconsin, Madison, 1997 (Double Concerto)
PARNASSUS PACD 9619 [67:53]



Trained as a professional flautist and leading a busy career as conductor and flautist, Katherine Hoover is also a distinguished composer with a sizeable body of works to her credit. Though she has composed much music for flute, she has also written some substantial orchestral works, some of which are recorded here. Besides the pieces featured here, she has the following to her name: Clarinet Concerto Op.38 (1987), Stitch-te naku Op.47 (1994) for cello and orchestra, a Nocturne for flute and strings, a piano quintet Da Pacem (1988) and a string quartet, to name but a few. Information concerning the life and works of Katherine Hoover may be found on the website.

Eleni Gatzoyanis was tortured and executed by Communist partisans for smuggling her children out of Greece to join their father in the States. This happened in 1948 at the end of the Greek Civil War. Her son, eight at the time, became an investigative reporter for The New York Times. In the early 1980s, he returned to Greece to trace the events leading to his motherís death. As a result of this trip, he later published a book Eleni about his mother. Eleni: A Greek Tragedy Op.36 is Hooverís personal response to the events depicted in the book. Thus, the work is both "a lament and a tribute" (the composerís words). Part of the score uses Greek folk music, particularly that from Epiros, the region where Eleni lived. This is clearly heard in the opening section replete with folk-inflected tunes, at times accompanied by hand clapping. This almost innocent, nostalgic music dissolves into a dark-hued dirge, using some controlled aleatory elements, building to a massive climax out of which the opening folksy tune re-emerges to introduce the deeply moving final lament (wordless mezzo-soprano and orchestra). This is undoubtedly a heartfelt, sincere piece of music of great communicative strength.

The Double Concerto Op.40 for two violins and strings is comparatively more relaxed in mood and more traditional, by 20th Century standards. The music is predominantly tuneful, lyrical and often playful with some discrete whiffs of jazz. It has much in common with, say, Malcolm Arnoldís own Concerto for two Violins and Strings Op.77, particularly so in the musicís restraint and understatement. A worthy addition to the repertoire, cleverly eschewing any superficial Neo-classicism, and again quite accessible, as are the other pieces.

Two Sketches Op.42, begun in 1985 and completed in 1989, is a contrasted diptych of short orchestral studies: Winter Sands is a beautiful seascape whereas Turnabout, actually a study in palindromic writing, is altogether more extrovert and brilliant.

The somewhat more recent Night Skies Op.46 is by far the most ambitious and most substantial work here. This beautifully atmospheric Nocturne was partly inspired by Henri- Edmond Crossís watercolour Landscape with Stars which appropriately enough adorns the cover of this disc, but also by Ryderís nightscapes and the composerís own visual impressions. The resulting work is a wonderful piece of brilliant, colourful, impressionistic orchestration displaying Hooverís orchestral mastery in the most convincing manner.

I for one was particularly impressed by Katherine Hoover the composer whose music Ė of course Ė was new to me and who is a most distinguished composer with a remarkable orchestral flair, who has obviously things to say and who knows how to say them in the best possible way. I would certainly like to hear more of her orchestral music.

Hubert Culot



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