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Hovhaness no 15 - Silver Pilgrimage


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Author Topic: Hovhaness no 15 - Silver Pilgrimage  (Read 314 times)
Jolly Roger
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« on: April 17, 2013, 10:52:18 am »

Swedish radio P2
http://sverigesradio.se/sida/avsnitt/180831?programid=4428
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cilgwyn
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« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2013, 05:49:52 pm »

Not sure if Hovhaness is that 'little known' these days! Although,none of the blokes down the pub have heard of him,so maybe?! Grin Hovhaness has had some 'knocks'.over the years,for supposedly,composing the same symphony,over & over again,and I must admit allot of my Hovhaness cds did eventually get a new lease of life at the local charity shop! Having said that,at his best,and when I'm in the right mood,I love his music & the half dozen,or so I kept,get played quite allot! Personally,I wouldn't class 'Silver Pilgrimage' as one of his best efforts;but thanks for telling us! Smiley
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Gauk
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« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2013, 10:26:22 pm »

It's not so much that he composed the same symphony over and over, as that it is questionable to what extent he simply attached the title to works that don't bear the weight.
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cilgwyn
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« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2013, 12:30:45 am »

A good point! And of course,it's just one of those 'clever' remarks that are made to try & nobble a composer they (whoever they are?) don't like. Unfortunately,they sometimes stick! I remember seeing the old Crystal Lps listed years ago & thinking,'What can those be like?' 'St Vartan symphony','Vishnu','Walla Walla,land of many waters' (!! Roll Eyes Grin),'City of Light','Majnun Symphony,etc. They sound so wonderfully mysterious & evoke such high flown expectations,you're almost 'primed' to be disappointed. And,unlike Vaughan Williams at his most mystical,who had the sense (maybe? Roll Eyes Grin) not to use exotic subtitles,Hovhaness doesn't quite have the symphonic mettle to achieve what he sets out to do! Having said that,the recordings don't always help! I find it interesting that some of the Hovhaness recordings I have most enjoyed are the ones with particularly spectacular sound quality, ie the Delos & Telarc recordings,the Concerto for two Pianos & orchestra & Lousadzak on Black Box & 'Symphony No10 'Vahaken','Ode to the Temple of Sound' & 'Floating World' on the Centaur Label. This last cd,entitled (wait for it!) 'Visions of the East', is a good example I suppose of the sort of Hovhaness that his critics complain about. With a veritable assortment of exotic percussion & instrumentation that would drive your average hippy or New Ager wild with ecstasy,it could sound like 58 minutes of aimless noodling;but the Centaur recording is such a sonic spectacular I'm quite happy to give Hovhaness the benefit of the doubt,crack out the metaphorical incense sticks,maybe some Lobsang Rampa Grin & enjoy every mesmersingly,hypnotic drop,even if it does go on a bit too long for it's own good...........really?! Roll Eyes If only every Hovhaness cd that has come my way sounded that good!! Smiley 
If only the same team would do the 'Vishnu Symphony'. One of Hovhaness's wackiest inspirations,and according to the Hovhaness website,most avant-garde,compositions!. The old Crystal recording is good,but a little 'thin' sounding to my ears! Roll Eyes The piano compositions,including Khaldis,on Crystal CD814,are particularly striking,and could surely benefit from a new,state of the art,recording. When Hovhaness DID hit the mark,he was a very rewarding & original composer.

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Gauk
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« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2013, 07:35:37 am »

Ironically, Hovhaness was listed in at least one edition of the Guinness Book of Records as "the most self-critical composer ever" because of the huge volume of juvenilia he destroyed. Never mind what he did afterwards ... and then you look at someone like Paul Dukas.
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Jolly Roger
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« Reply #5 on: April 18, 2013, 08:40:43 am »

While I do enjoy some of Hovhaness's music, when I discover a symphony I have not heard before, many of them sound like variations on themes I have already heard by this composer, as if it is all woven from the same cloth. While not a showstopper, this symphony should be of interest to devotees. I think there are some interesting dissonances but not much new or fresh, but of course I must hear it a few times more.
My first impression is there is nothing earth-shaking here, but audio quality is good, which is big plus for this kind of meditative music. But only time and due dilligence will tell if it has any real staying power.
 
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cilgwyn
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« Reply #6 on: April 18, 2013, 03:04:24 pm »

His best music is good for a bit of late night relaxation. At it's worst,for example,the 'St Vartan Symphony',it all sounds very nice at first;but after a while you're starting to drum your fingers & thinking about the 'off' button! Great name,though & it's twenty four movements got it into the Guiness Book of Records,apparently! Another inclusion Gauk! Was Alan Hovhaness a record breaker,or what?!! Shocked Grin A pity the symphony doesn't live up to it's evocative title? subject matter. At least it didn't for me! Sad
For my money,Hovhaness's Exile Symphony (No1) is one of his best. The Delos performance conducted by Gerard Schwarz,is very good & has some very enjoyable couplings,including his oddly sinister sounding 'Fantasy on Japanese Woodprints' & 'The Rubaiyat' (of Omar Khayyam) which I like,even though I'm not normally too keen on the narrator;actor,Michael York! Roll Eyes Unlike,numerous,later efforts,the 'Exile Symphony' has some urgency to it & doesn't go on too long!
As to the others (phew! Roll Eyes Shocked) . Mysterious Mountain is the most famous one & has some admirers,not to mention the famous Reiner recording. And I know that some people enjoy the 'Mount St Helens' symphony (No 50). The Delos recording is a fun,sonic spectacular,if you like that sort of thing. I just wish the same team could give us a modern recording of the wacky 'Vishnu' (No19)! I also enjoyed the BBC Radio 3 performance of 'Arjuna',which was broadcast on Composer of the Week;but I am told that Hovhaness's own performance is superior. Incidentally,if the R3 performance of 'Arjuna' is not here already,I believe I have it on a cassette somewhere. I think it's one of his most imaginative efforts. As to the others,I quite like the 'Etchmiadzin' (I think?),No21,on a Crystal cd,with some quite nice couplings (nicely chosen)..........but some......allot of them (the symphonies,anyway),do go on a bit. And I'd better stop here,in case that applies to me?!! Roll Eyes Sad Grin
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cilgwyn
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« Reply #7 on: April 18, 2013, 04:02:08 pm »

Another thing that's good for late night relaxation. A bed! Roll Eyes Grin Unlike Hovhaness,at his worst,you're asleep;so you don't have to worry if it goes on too long!

Favourite Hovhaness symphony: 'Exile Symphony' (No1)! At only 19 mins,40 seconds (Delos),it has all the Hovhaness hallmarks,but unlike a certain popular junk food,not too many noodles! Smiley

Thanks to Jolly Roger,I'm now revisiting my Hovhaness cds & enjoying them too! I even ordered a s/h Koch cd of two symphonies that aren't in my collection. The seller is in Germany,so it'll take a few days. Moaning aside,a wonderful composer at his best. The Crystal cd with Etchmiadzin (No21) on it,is a particularly lovely collection of Hovhaness at his most 'exotic' & consistently inspired..
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Gauk
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« Reply #8 on: April 19, 2013, 07:59:02 am »

If Hovhaness was cited for most number of movements in a symphony, that certainly is unfair to Shchedrin, whose 2nd symphony has at least 24 movements, if not 25 (ages since I heard it).

{Edited later - it is 25 }

I have never heard "Vishnu", but when I was an undergrad, the university library had a copy the score, which I remember poring over.

I have a soft spot for Hovhaness's 4th "Nanga Parbat" for its interesting polyrhythms - but a symphony it is not.
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Jolly Roger
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« Reply #9 on: April 19, 2013, 08:39:01 am »

More Hovhaness here:
http://classical-music-online.net/en/composer/Hovhaness/5466
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cilgwyn
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« Reply #10 on: April 19, 2013, 01:30:40 pm »

Well,the Hovhaness cds are still playing here,although,to be quite honest,I'm not sure if I can honestly tell one from the other.& some of them are more like suites,than what I would regard as symphonies. Still,with sounds as mesmersingly hypnotic & gorgeously exotic as this coming through my headphones,who cares?!
I had a huge pile of Hovhaness cds half way up to the ceiling,a while back! Gradually,the more 'samey' sounding ones got carted off to the charity shop. I have about nine left,which I am very happy with,indeed! Smiley
I'm sure allot of hippies & new agers,out there,would love to get their mits on my Hovhaness cds! Grin But,they're not having 'em!! Angry Grin 'Mountains & Rivers without End',is a particularly evocatively titled one,that really does bring up images of mysterious monasteries on remote peaks.....and rivers,of course! A bit like a very sophisticated & genuinely imaginative version of one of those awful relaxation tapes (or cds,now!). Marvellous! My only complaint? Despite the title,it does come to an end!! Sad
Still,there's always the repeat button! Smiley


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Gauk
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« Reply #11 on: April 19, 2013, 02:09:03 pm »

It is rather easy to do pastiche Hovhaness, as he uses the same cadences over and over. I once dropped in to a service at St. Sarkis Armenian Apostolic Church, Kensington. Once you hear the Armenian liturgy sung, you know exactly where Hovhaness got his melodies from.
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Jim
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« Reply #12 on: May 01, 2013, 11:27:13 am »

'Mountains & Rivers without End',is a particularly evocatively titled one,that really does bring up images of mysterious monasteries on remote peaks.....and rivers,of course! A bit like a very sophisticated & genuinely imaginative version of one of those awful relaxation tapes (or cds,now!). Marvellous! My only complaint? Despite the title,it does come to an end!! Sad
Still,there's always the repeat button! Smiley

I have to agree with everything in the whole post, but this evocative piece with its portamentos reminded me that I had recorded a broadcast of Meditation on Zeami which also uses extensive portamento (and has some almost modernist touches too!). I have just uploaded this to the US music downloads thread.
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