One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,514 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider


paid for


100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas

FOGHORN Classics

Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Plain text for smartphones & printers

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat



Recordings of the Month


From Ocean’s Floor


Conner Riddle Songs

Rodzinski Sibelius

Of Innocence and Experience


Symphonies 1, 2, 3

Support us financially by purchasing this disc from
Alan HOVHANESS (1911-2000)
The Historic Moscow Recordings of the Cristofori Foundation
Spoken Introduction to concert in Russian [2:33]
The Prayer of St Gregory (1946) [5:33]
Concerto for two pianos and orchestra (1954) [20.51]*
Three Pieces for two pianos+: Mihr (1945) [9.25]; Ko-ola-u (1962) [2.19]; Vijag (1946) [3.44]
Lousadzak - concerto for piano and orchestra (1944) [18.56]++
Andrei Ikov (trumpet); Martin Berkofsky (piano, on all pieces) with Atakan Sari (piano 2)* Sergei Podobedov (piano 2)+ Nikolai Zherenkov (violin)++
Globalis Symphony Orchestra/Konstantin Krimets
rec. live, Mosfilm Studios, Moscow, March 2003 (Concerto for two pianos - world première), House of Sound, Moscow, March and June 2004 (remainder)
CRISTOFORI CF-889 [63:27]

This disc emanates from an inspired, inveterate and dedicated Hovhaness source. Peter Christ’s Crystal Records remains the home of the composer’s own key-note recordings from the Poseidon LP label of the 1970s. This Cristofori product has been accommodated within the Crystal stable. It reintroduces familiar Hovhaness recordings. I say ‘familiar’ although the original Black Box issue from 2005 - minus some of the tracks here - never seemed to gain much prominence. The Black Box was reviewed here by Jonathan Woolf in 2005.
An assertively muscular and forward-surging Prayer of St Gregory features an urgent solo from Andrei Ikov. This is reverential music which in this performance remains in touch with a fast pulse - no suggestion of static noodling here. The 1954 Concerto for two pianos is a fascinating three-movement piece. The long, sinuous woodwind and violin lines course passionately forward in an Andante and are punctuated by harshly stony dissonance from the pianos. Thrumming strings exacerbate the apocalyptic tension with the two pianos carrying forward their hieratically dark role from the first movement. Brass and tam-tam pile the atmosphere higher. Anxiety mediates with consolation in the final Moderato but soon reverts to dissonantly swirling angst. This is a work closer in spirit to the dark intimations and clashing rites of the Odysseus and Vishnu symphonies rather than to Hovhaness’s softer-contoured works such as St Vartan and Mysterious Mountain. Martin Berkofsky is no Hovhaness tyro. He recorded Khaldis,the concerto for piano, four trumpets and percussion (1951), the Mount Katahdin piano sonata (1987) and the piano solo Fantasy (1944) in the 1970s and these are on Poseidon CD814.
Then come the Three Pieces for two pianos where Berkofsky is joined in the first by Atakan Sari and in the other two by Sergei Podobedov. Mihr(1945) comes as balm after the complexities and tensions of the Concerto. The language reminded me of the folk-like exotic piano pieces of Komitas Vartabed as recently recorded for Kalan by Sahan Artzruni. The very brief Ko-ola-u(1962) chimes with hypnotic sweetness and the bass line anchors and earths the music. There’s something quite Baxian about this writing with its setting of extreme treble against extreme bass. Vijag (1946) rushes forward with a quick repetitive carillon. One can see how Steve Reich might well have been influenced by these three pieces. Lousadzak carries the suggestion of the sitar and the sway of North African music to which the piano lends dynamism and momentum. It’s a meaty single movement work without the out-and-out vanguard clashes of the Concerto for two pianos and orchestra. The rippling piano solo often recalls the most Mephisto outbursts of Liszt in Totentanz. About halfway through Berkofsky is joined by a violin solo, here taken by Nikolai Zherenkov - an imploring submissive line to the piano’s cantorial confidence and self-absorption. Lousadzak knows the mysteries but here, by contrast with the Two-Piano Concerto, the arcane spirits are benign and dignified and expound celestial delights.
The liner booklet runs to an unstinting 32 pages, overwhelmingly in English. It is decked out with pictures and reproductions of concert bills; all in all a major contribution to the Hovhaness literature, audio and written. It also serves to contrast the lyrical and dissonant sides of Hovhaness.
Rob Barnett 

Review index: Alan Hovhaness