Monday, 1 July 2013

18. Hovhaness Symphony no.2 "Mysterious Mountain"

Alan Hovhaness

The fourth post honouring American composers features the premier recording of a work with lush scoring and attractive melodies from the often under appreciated composer, Alan Hovhaness. Alan Hovhaness (1911–2000) was an Armenian-American composer. He was one of the most prolific 20th century composers, writing between 450-500 compositions, including 67 numbered symphonies. I obviously can't profess to knowing even a fraction of his work, but the few works that I do know, I absolutely love, Symphony no.2 "Mysterious Mountain" being one of them.

Alan Hovhaness Symphony no.2 Mysterious Mountain Fritz Reiner Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Symphony no.2 "Mysterious Mountain", composed in 1955, is one of Hovhaness' most celebrated and enduring works. The first recording, from 1958 for the RCA Victor label, played by the Chicago Symphony conducted by Fritz Reiner, is still my favourite recording of the symphony.
Those who are regular readers of my blog will no doubt hear some similarities between the opening moments of this piece and the Vaughan William Tallis Fantasia, which I featured previously. Mysterious Mountain is a deeply spiritual work, featuring a soaring trumpet above meditative strings. The end of the first movement is beautifully yearning. The Double Fugue: Allegro vivo (track 3) sprints along at a furious pace and is immediately thrilling and appealing. Those discovering Hovhaness for the first time will be impressed by the immediacy of this music.

Links to the recording (tracks 1-4):
 Amazon.com ($3.99)

Mysteriously, I can't seem to find the iTunes USA Store link.
Hovhaness: Mysterious Mountain - Prokofiev: Lieutenant Kijé - Stravinsky: The Fairy's Kiss: Divertimento - Fritz Reiner & Chicago Symphony Orchestra UK Store
Hovhaness: Mysterious Mountain - Prokofiev: Lieutenant Kijé - Stravinsky: The Fairy's Kiss: Divertimento - Fritz Reiner & Chicago Symphony Orchestra Germany Store
Hovhaness: Mysterious Mountain - Prokofiev: Lieutenant Kijé - Stravinsky: The Fairy's Kiss: Divertimento - Fritz Reiner & Chicago Symphony Orchestra Netherlands Store


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