This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.
Notes and Editorial Reviews
It is most unlikely that we will ever have more than a small portion of Alan Hovhaness's prolific output placed on disc. So I was infuriated to find that this disc contained only two movements from the thirty-eighth symphony. Then I read the small print at the back of the booklet, and discovered that the disc is in memory of Jun Fujihara, mother of the coloratura soprano in these two movements, and thereby the mother-in-law to the composer.
So let us forgive this rather uncommercial excursion and enjoy what is on offer, and in particular the tenth Concerto, written for piano, trumpet, and strings. It is in six movements and dates from 1988, having been commissioned by the Centre for the Creative Arts at Austin Peay State
University. Start out with the music and don't get bogged down with the accompanying booklet, for this is music to simply sit back and enjoy. It is a case of East meets West, the oriental qualities dressed in familiar western symphonic garb. Chinese, Tibetan, and Indian influences flit by in a patchwork of the most fascinating colors. The piano is given a solo role, and yet is an integral part of the orchestral fabric. There is also a hint of Hollywood mixed into the score with the haunting melody that opens the fourth movement. The final "Wandering in Space" takes us for a brief moment into a radiant world of ethereal beauty.
Alan Hovhaness, whose original name was Alan Vaness Chakmakjian, came from Armenian parentage, and he has spent much of his career researching the folk songs of that country. This has resulted in three Rhapsodies, the first taking its theme from mountain-village tunes and the second from a church festival, while the third mixes a religious melody with the folk song By the Fountain. Performed as a triptych of musical paintings, the Rhapsodies work well, the quick, festive and happy conclusion to the First Rhapsody leading to the slow and dramatic Second. It is a mood that continues into the opening of the Third, before it moves to a peaceful conclusion.
Composed in 1978, the symphony is cast in five movements, the third and fourth movements containing the coloratura soprano soaring to an E above high C. The third is subtitled "My Soul Is a Bird," its inspiration coming from Japanese melodies, and it is the freedom of a bird that Hovhaness pictures in this very extended movement. The fourth, Lullaby, contains a flute solo to mirror the voice that sings, "Lullaby, lullaby, bird in tall pine tree."
The symphony was composed for Fujihara, so the performance has to be rather special, though I must add that her unique voice is something of an acquired taste. The playing throughout is superb, Martin Berkofsky's piano solo perfectly capturing the oriental fantasy in the Concerto. The recording quality is also very much in keeping with the music's exotic colors, its somewhat distanced perspective adding to the feeling of the outdoor nature of the Armenian Rhapsodies.
-- David Denton, FANFARE [9/1998] Read less
Works on This Recording
Concerto no 10 for Piano, Trumpet and Strings, Op. 413 by Alan Hovhaness
Chris Butler (Trumpet),
Martin Berkofsky (Piano)
Seattle Symphony Orchestra members
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1988; USA
Date of Recording: 06/1996
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