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Mysterious Mountain

4.6 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Audio CD, April 12, 1994
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 12, 1994)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Delos
  • ASIN: B0000006ZD
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #78,070 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Alan Hovhaness was the first composer where I heard his music and I thought, here are sounds put together I had never heard before. Often a mixture of Asian or Mid-eastern sounds, fused with forms from the Baroque Era (a feature on this disk), his music is truly unique.

Alan Hovhaness' "Mysterious Mountain" Symphony No. 2 premiered in the 1950's and still captivates audiences today. He uses techniques from the past, but also uses modern chord progressions, not to mention exotic modes of far-away cultures. To today's ears, the music almost sounds cinematic, or could be confused as. The theme is an imaginary mountain that is conjured in each of our minds, whether real or fantastical. The grandeur opens the work in the first movement with heavily divided strings in a chorale setting, but a unique one that moves to tonally interesting chords. While the chorale continues, an "out-of-tune" walking bass invades the interesting string harmonies, almost playing in a key of its own. Eventually the harp and celeste have their say, with flourishes of unknown modes not related to the string chorale. It is a very interesting sound that captivates me when I listen. The brisk second movement is a double fugue, with a long, almost chant-like, pentatonic, melody, which when harmonized, is reminiscent of Bach and the Baroque Era, with minor clashes of dissonance. After a skippy little string motive is started, a fugue is begun. Eventually, the two themes overlap to create the double fugue. The last movement is also chorale-like, but highly rhythmical, but eventually the techniques from the first movement invade, and a brilliant chorale ends the work. A charming 17-minute symphony, conjures so many personal images, yet the sound is entirely new. A historical and interesting work.
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By Mars Velvet on October 11, 2002
Format: Audio CD
Hovhaness' compositions create a whirilwind of pictures in the mind of his listeners. As the sounds enchant you the mood strikes out images of Pacific Northwest, Humpback Whales, a crystal night of stars, and one mountain shrouded in enigma.
It is almost like hearing a Monet painting. Many sounds that create a melodious blur adding up to a beautiufl musical landscape. What Monet did for French gardens, Hovhaness does for the North Pacific sea life! Hovhaness paints scenic symphonies dotted with flections of color and mood.
I highly recomend this album to anyone in search of beautiful symphonic sound pictures!
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Format: Audio CD
Alan Hovhaness has long been a favorite fro concertgoers and now Gerard Schwarz and the Seattle Symphony Orchestra bring us one of the most thrilling performances right to our home. The CD begins with Mysterious Mountain which is a piece that has tone colors and orchestral flavor that only Hovhaness could have created. As you listen to this piece, you can almost invision these great mountain climbing into the sky; a boundless mass of strength and glory. The other piece that sticks out on this CD is "And God Created Great Whales." The work begins with the string section; quiet and unoticed as it gathers strength. The music builds and the addition of real whale sounds make the work an exceptional listening experience. The work ends with a final crash as though a whale has just dived into the water.
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Format: Audio CD
The rendition of the "Mysterious Mountain" symphony is excellent. But a work, new to me, "The Prayer of St. Gregory" is my favorite on this CD. This CD is Hovhaness at his best.
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Format: Audio CD
Boy, it's amazing how different sets of ears hear things differently! I was just musing on the purity of sound that the Seattle strings are able to produce on this disc, nimble and without the heaviness that some more famous string bodies under certain conductors (say, Philadelphia under Ormandy or Sawallisch) would proffer. And I was further thinking that Delos' clean, clear recording was a big help, especially in the "Prayer to Saint Anthony," where the lonely sound of solo trumpet is etched against the accompanying strings. Then I read the comments by others on this page and am amazed to read that some think the sound on this disc "tinny...muddy." Obviously, I don't agree.

As to the performances, Schwarz seems to me a master Hovhaness interpreter, as other performances from Seattle and elsewhere have proved. I, too, recall the classic recording of "Mysterious Mountain" with Reiner, and I think Schwarz yields nothing to Reiner in terms of depth of feeling or any other musical criteria. Schwarz's is a lovely performance, with all the required mystery and majesty of this seminal piece intact.

In other hands than Hovhaness's, "God Created Great Whales" could have emerged as a one-trick pony of a piece. I happen to think that Rautavaara's "Cantus Arcticus," mentioned by at least one other reviewer, comes far closer to this downfall. I find that Rautavaara's music is no more or less interesting than, nor does it shed special light on, the recorded bird sounds in his piece. As you can guess, I'm not a great admirer of the Finnish composer. But Hovhaness manages to mirror the sounds of the whales, in both the strings and brass (hard feat!) in such a way that we come to appreciate the remarkable communicativeness of these great beasts of the sea. At least I do.
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