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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.Read more ›
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!
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I got this disc after hearing "Mysterious Mountain" on the local classical station. I enjoy a lot of 20th Century music, but only tonal music. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Miss Budgie
I have been a long time fan of "And God Created Great Whales." It is a challenge incorporating a recording into symphonic music. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Jeffrey A. Forman
Mysterious Mountain is an extraordinary piece I've known about for quite some time. This is beautiful. Read morePublished on February 6, 2014 by SaintRoch
I just listened to the RCA Living Stereo reissue of the Reiner and the Chicago Symphony 1958 recording of Mysterious Mountain. It is supposed to be the best performance. Read morePublished on September 19, 2013 by A reader
Mysterious Mountain was my first contact with the music of maestro Hovhaness.
I had been enjoying the music of Vaughan Williams when I accidentaly discovered his... Read more
WOW!! THIS MAN HAS SOME SERIOUS MUSIC IN HIS HEAD..... PRAY FOR A LONG LIFE SO HE CAN GET IT ALL OUT.....Published on February 7, 2013 by KATY TODD
This compact disc offers a dreamy and esoteric presentation of Mysterious Mountain (Symphony No. 2), Op. 132 by Alan Hovahness. Read morePublished on January 5, 2013 by TREAT