(OgreOgress)

The music of Alan Hovhaness (1911-2000) risks to disguise its profundity under the veil of apparently weightless peaceful melodies. Yet he was the first who tried to put in contact transcontinental cultures in his work, being a precursor even without necessarily sounding like one. Still the fact that, even in the present day, this artist’s background is fairly unknown to the masses is quite shameful, as these scores possess levity, spiritual nuances and melancholic gloom in equal doses, which – interconnected with Eastern jargons and well evident Armenian influences – results in a cycle of intense moments characterized by the vivid lights of vehement inspiration. This edition comes on a dual disc (a one-hour CD and a two-hour DVD on the respective faces) and contains executions by the Slovenská Filharmónia, conducted by Rastislav Štúr and featuring soloists Christina Fong (violin and viola), Gaurav Mazumdar (sitar), Paul Hersey (piano) and Michael Bowman (trumpet). The commitment of each of the involved musicians is perceptible throughout, their rendering of the grief characterizing “Janabar” plainly impressive, the piece amounting to an authorized soundtrack to break the silence of inner reflection. On the other hand, “Shambala” – the first-ever concerto for orchestra including sitar, originally commissioned to Hovhaness by violinist Yehudi Menuhin – often approaches territories that, in certain sections, call to mind a sonic commentary to an epic movie, not losing an ounce of its suggestive clout and transcendental charm in the meantime. Qualities that are more or less lying at the bottom of the barrel of ignorance, in favour of many overhyped icons of the classical world’s history. This set could embody an ideal introduction to this man’s conceptions while helping to dissolve the fog surrounding them.

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