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  • Hovhaness: Symphony No. 2 Mysterious Mountain / Prokofiev: Lt. Kije Suite / Stravinsky: Fairy's Kiss Divertimento
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Hovhaness: Symphony No. 2 Mysterious Mountain / Prokofiev: Lt. Kije Suite / Stravinsky: Fairy's Kiss Divertimento

42 customer reviews

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Audio CD, March 14, 1995
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Hovhaness: Symphony No. 2 Mysterious Mountain / Prokofiev: Lt. Kije Suite / Stravinsky: Fairy's Kiss Divertimento + Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition, A Night on Bald Mountain and Other Russian Showpieces + Scheherazade / Song of the Nightingale
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Most people became acquainted with Hovhaness's greatest symphony, Mysterious Mountain (Symphony 2), through this recording when it appeared on vinyl during the Stone Age. It plays like an extended prayer and is oddly structured. It was an immediate hit when it appeared in 1955. Stravinsky's The Fairy's Kiss is a 1928 ballet commission that, quite intentionally, recalls Tchaikovsky and was written to commemorate the 30th anniversary of his death. Last here is a bang-up reading of Serge Prokofiev's classic Lieutenant Kije Suite. If you want to turn a young person onto classical music, play this disc. Worked with me. --Paul Cook

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Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.
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Product Details

  • Orchestra: Chicago Symphony Orchestra
  • Conductor: Fritz Reiner
  • Composer: Alan Hovhaness, Sergei Prokofiev, Igor Stravinsky
  • Audio CD (March 14, 1995)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: RCA
  • ASIN: B000003FMX
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #57,128 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Mr. F. E. Perry on February 26, 2000
Format: Audio CD
I first heard the music of Alan Hovhaness in 1971 and the piece which introduced me to his music was 'Fra Angelico'. I was an instant convert! I eagerly sought out Symphony No.2 as it was listed to be one of his most popular pieces. This recording is transcendent. I have the version on Delos by Gerard Schwarz and the Seattle Symphony - but they romp through it as if it were a trip up a small mountain - rucksacks on our backs an all! Every other version that I have heard, via the Radio, treats it similarly. But the title of the piece is MYSTERIOUS Mountain and on this recording that is precisely what we get. Tremendous sensitivity pervades this performance whereby it is even possible to experience an Internal mountain through which we can leave all the troubles of the world behind. Hovhaness speaks of his being inspired by mountains as sources of spiritual sustenance and all of that is here too. If you're looking for a recording of this Symphony by one of the world's most uplifting composers - then look no further. This is IT!
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47 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Doc Sarvis on December 3, 1999
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This album serves up a marvelous sampling of twentieth-century classical music. The first piece, "Mysterious Mountain" is a work of such aching beauty that once heard, it will be held in reverence forever. If you have any feeling for the wonders of nature, this piece will go straight to your heart.
The Stravinsky and Prokofiev works are also magnificent and provide a welcome counterpoint to the Hovhaness piece, but it is "Mysterious Mountain" that will live on in your memory.
The LP version of this album became a legendary collector's item prior to the CD release. One listen and you'll see why.
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42 of 44 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 29, 2003
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is arguably one of the finest symphonic recordings made of any piece by anyone, anywhere. Reiner and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's rendition of Hovhaness's Symphony No. 2 is a worthy companion to their recordings of Strauss and Bartok - recordings that belong in the library of anyone who loves great music.
What's equally worth noting is the care that RCA took in transferring it to compact disk. They recruited John Pfeiffer, the engineer who made the original recordings, to do the re-mastering. Further, they rebuilt the original analogue recording equipment to transfer the tape master to digital format. Then, they made the brave decision to avoid all noise reduction post-processing, in order to preserve as much of the original performance as possible. As a result, you do hear tape hiss on this disk, as well as other extremely slight noise; but you also hear a beautifully detailed recording. For example, on one of the pianissimo trumpet passages, you can hear a very slight blurring of the trumpet tone, as Bud Herseth tightens his emboucher - a sound that contributes to the performance, but would have been scrubbed out by most noise-reduction systems.
If you love great music, buy this disk. And play it loud!
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Robert E. Nylund on April 26, 2006
Format: Audio CD
For many, climbing a mountain (or a hill) is more than a physical exercise. Amercian composer Alan Hovhaness recognized that there is a spiritual quality to being on top of a mountain, perhaps going back to the Biblical example of the three disciples who joined Jesus Christ on a mountain. Simon Peter said, "Lord, it is good for us to be here." Mountains can be a place for meditation and reflection.

In his second symphony, which he called "Mysterious Mountain," Alan Hovhaness imagined a mountain where one could indeed have a spiritual experience. Perhaps this was his vision of an IDEAL mountain, certainly a place to get away from things and spend time in contemplation. There's no doubt that the symphony, which was premiered by Leopold Stokowski and the Houston Symphony in 1955 (on NBC television), is an uplifting piece. It is also very majestic and profound at times, setting a pattern for Hovhaness in the numerous symphonies he wrote in the years after 1955.

Fritz Reiner's remarkable recording of "Mysterious Mountain" was one of a series of incredible stereophonic recordings that RCA Victor made in Chicago's Orchestra Hall between 1954 and 1962. Using just three microphones and a triple-track tape recorder, RCA achieved outstanding results with a greater clarity than had been accomplished in earlier recordings. This particular recording remains a "high water" mark and is probably the definitive version of a magnificent work that can be quite inspirational. Yes, Hovhaness does represent a mountaintop experience and, some years later, he celebrated yet another mountain in his "Mount Saint Helens" symphony, recorded by the Seattle Symphony Orchestra to celebrate the volcano's violent 1980 eruption.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Graser on April 23, 2007
Format: Audio CD
At the moment I have over 1000 cd's of music of every sort though mostly western classical, and I have no problem recommending this before any of them. This piece of music by Alan Hovhaness is easily the most simply beautiful thing I have ever heard and never fails to inspire and uplift upon repeated listenings. The performance here by Reiner and The Chicago Symphony is virtuosic and sensitive, revealing the hidden details of this seemingly simple piece of music. This is THE recording to own of this work, no competition. However, don't let this be your only recording of music by Hovhaness. Don't let shallow comments like "All his music sounds the same" or he "re-wrote this symphony 60 more times," keep you from further explorations of Hovhaness' music. Odd that those same criticisms aren't raised with the music of Haydn and Mozart... The performance of the Stravinsky work is equally impressive. The superb solo and ensemble playing of the Chicago musicians under Reiner reveal the characters and colors of this lesser known Stravinsky work. This is a recording I have treasured for years and I have no doubts that you will as well. Highest Recommendation!
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Hovhaness: Symphony No. 2 Mysterious Mountain / Prokofiev: Lt. Kije Suite / Stravinsky: Fairy's Kiss Divertimento
This item: Hovhaness: Symphony No. 2 Mysterious Mountain / Prokofiev: Lt. Kije Suite / Stravinsky: Fairy's Kiss Divertimento
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