Wednesday, December 21, 2011

American Mystic: Music of Alan Hovhaness (1911-2000)

"The ever-popular Prayer of St. Gregory (1946), for trumpet and strings, was first heard as an intermezzo from Hovhaness' opera Etchmiadzin -- but it soon found favor as a separate work. The composer characterized it as 'a prayer in darkness,' honoring St. Gregory, 'the illuminator,' who first introduced Christianity to Armenia in the fourth century. This rather brief, but soul-satisfying work lays down a soft, charle-like bed of typically Armenian modal string harmonies, drifting beneath a serenely aching trumpet solo. The piece gradually increases in sacred fervor and entreaty -- as if rising heavenward -- without ever losing its pervasive sense of radiant calm. With The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (1975) -- for narrator, solo accordion and orchestra -- Hovhaness offers a rather unconventional work, in that the music serves as a framework to spoken recitations of well-known love poetry by the 11th-century Persian writer Omar Khayyam. Another unusual aspect is that the piece is uncharacteristically hedonistic" (CD notes by Lindsay Koob).
View catalog record here!


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