American Mystic - Music of Alan Hovhaness

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Heralded by a New York Times article honoring the centenary year of Hovhaness’ birth, Delos celebrates this wonderfully eclectic “American Mystic’s” glowing niche in the pantheon of American musical history from a new angle: Hovhaness as a composer of what we now call “World Music” though on a more exalted plane than most of that genre’s content.

We call Hovhaness a “mystic” largely due to his insatiable curiosity about pan-global musical traditions: primarily exotic sounding middle- and far-Eastern modes, scales and rhythms that, owing to their alien impact upon Western ears, tend to convey mystically spiritual impressions. On top of his own Armenian musical roots, he compulsively explored the music of other Arabic regions as well as the traditions of India, Japan, Korea and Indonesia, absorbing them all into his overall musical consciousness, to be tapped at need to suit his unique creative designs. Accordingly, Delos has combed through its many distinguished previous recordings of Hovhaness’ music to find the individual works that best support such a World Music classification. And everything fits: Like that of many current world music artists, the music of Hovhaness blends disparate musical influences and impulses in musical fusions that are framed by Western contexts of sound, form and instrumentation. - Delos

R E V I E W S:

"This year [2011] is the centennial of Hovhaness’s birth, and for the occasion Delos Records just released a commemorative CD of some of his most important orchestral and chamber works, called “American Mystic: Music of Alan Hovhaness...from childhood Hovhaness had been immersed in the work of Komitas Vartabed, an Armenian priest and musicologist of the late 19th century who specialized in the medieval liturgical and folk music of his homeland in the Caucasus. In the world of mainstream American classical music, however, Hovhaness, who died in 2000, was —and remains an outlier. At a time when dissonance, serialism and other styles were in vogue and many of his colleagues were writing works meant to be both modern and specifically American, Hovhaness embraced tonality and also showed a fondness for archaic elements like the polyphony of Renaissance music and the counterpoint of Baroque fugues...his music could also be deeply spiritual, a quality on display in well-known works like his Symphony No. 2, called “Mysterious Mountain,” and his “Prayer of St. Gregory,” both of which feature soaring trumpet and meditative string parts."

- Larry Rohter, New York Times

Product Description:

  • Catalog Number: DE 3421

  • UPC: 013491342122

  • Label: Delos

  • Composer: Alan Hovhaness

  • Conductor: Gerard Schwarz, Keith Brion

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Ohio State University Concert Band, Seattle Symphony Orchestra, Shanghai String Quartet

  • Performer: Charles Butler, Diane Schmidt, Michael York