Alan Hovhaness: Requiem and Resurrection / Symphony No. 19 (Vishnu)
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This disc starts with the fine "Requiem and Resurrection". Almost all classical composers eventually want to depict the life, death, and resurrection of Christ at some time in their lives, and Hovhaness was no exception. Hovhaness' fascination with Eastern motifs adds an appropriate Middle Eastern flavor to his "Requiem" and his use of brass adds a wonderful boldness to his "Resurrection". Although they are two parts of a single piece of music, it's easy to see where the "Resurrection" begins.
But the true gem of this disc lies in Hovaness' own interpretation of his Symphony # 19, "Vishnu". Vishnu is regarded as a major god in Hinduism. He is thought of as the preserver of the universe. Hovhaness returns again to his appropriate Eastern flavor with this symphony, and with Hovhaness at the baton, we will never have a better look at what was desired by the composer.
"Vishnu" is at once discordant and beautiful. Because of the theme of the preserver of the universe, this switching back and forth, almost as though you could possibly be improvisational with a symphony, adds a luster to this recording that fans of Hovhaness will find lovely, but others may find simply disquieting. It's as though you could see into the mind of a God - having to be everywhere and do everything all at the same time. It's almost a humbling experience.Read more ›
This symphony showed me an aspect of Hovhaness that I didn't know much about. Portions of the work are written in a style called "aleatoric" or "senza misura". These terms mean roughly free rhythm. The composer writes the notes, but the musicians play at different tempos, creating a sound Hovhaness called "controlled chaos". Hovhannes used this technique in the 1940s and later claimed, with a degree of exaggeration, to have invented it. Avant garde composers used aleatoric techniques a great deal in the 1950s. When I first heard the "Vishnu", I was puzzled and looked for discussions of it more detailed than the composer's own liner notes. I found an extended essay by Nicolo Athens: "A Man of Two Worlds: Alan Hovhaness and his Symphony No. 19, op 217, 'Vishnu'" which helped me a good deal. The title "Man of Two Worlds" derives from the name of a television documentary about Indian premier Nehru. Hovhaness composed background music for the documentary and later drew on the music for the "Vishnu" symphony.
As with much of Hovhaness, the symphony has themes of spirituality and nature. Vishnu is an Indian God and preserver of the universe. The symphony is in a single movement and is scored for a large orchestra.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Composer Alan Hovhaness was very interested in helping to connect people through his music with the majesty of the universe: This is one of his fascinating efforts in that... Read morePublished 13 months ago by michael b.
04-26-2014 This is the composer, Alan Hovhaness, conducting the North Jersey wind and Percussion Symphony in his Requiem and Resurrection, Op. Read morePublished on April 26, 2014 by NUC MED TECH
This contains the "Vishnu Symphony" which many will remember from the PBS documentary series "Cosmos" with Carl Sagan. Read morePublished on March 1, 2011 by Kevin-W