Andre Kostelanetz conducts the music of Alan Hovhaness


Hovhaness was born from Armenian descent, in Massachusetts. He was interested in music at a very early age, writing his first work at the age of four. Somehow, when reading the wiki page about him, I get the impression he was years ahead of the rest of the world. He played sitar in the Forties, went to India ten years before the Beatles did and wrote one of the first pieces of music for the worldwide movement to save the whales.

Side A of this record contains one of the two recording of a curious major work: a piece for orchestra and narrator based on the work by the Persion astronomer Omar Khayyam. I have listened to it two times, and I still don’t understand it very well.

Side B has the piece about the whales I mentioned earlier: And God created great whales. It is so called aleatoric music, based on the roll of the dice, and in this case using tapes of whales shouting insults at each other. A bit of a gimmick to be honest.

I think the most interesting was Fantasy On Japanese Woodprints, the result of his studies of Japanese music in 1965. I’m sure for Japanese people it is a terrible pastiche, but to me it sounds exotic.

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