Alan Hovhaness’ Symphony No. 2, Mysterious Mountain, is the music of huge, majestic, metaphorical summits. Unfolding as an arc, its three actions don’t take a linear, goal-oriented journey. As an alternative, they add as much as a reverent and awe-inspiring celebration of the everlasting.
In keeping with Hovhaness, the Symphony’s title doesn’t check with a selected mountain, however to “the entire concept of mountains.” He wrote,
Mountains are symbols, like pyramids, of man’s try to know God. Mountains are symbolic assembly locations between the mundane and non secular worlds. To some, the Mysterious Mountain will be the phantom peak, unmeasured, considered larger than Everest, as seen from nice distances by fliers in Tibet. To some, it could be the solitary mountain, the tower of energy over a countryside – Fujiyama, Ararat, Monadnock, Shasta, or Grand Teton.
The Symphony begins with a celestial chorale, set within the endlessly expansive meter of 10/4 time. A quiet strolling bass line processes by way of a dreamy panorama. The harp and celesta add ethereal splashes of shade. The plaintive voices of the oboe, English horn, and clarinet float over a wealthy sonic blanket. The solo trumpet emerges with the identical mystic name we hear in Ives’ The Unanswered Query and Copland’s Quiet Metropolis. Hovering across the Phrygian mode, the primary motion (Andante con moto) inhabits a serene and timeless panorama.
The second motion (Double Fugue: Moderato maestoso; allegro vivo) is a celebration of counterpoint. The flowing preliminary fugue remembers the choral motets of the Renaissance. The second fugue erupts with the rugged, exuberant power of the American frontier. This music is drawn from Hovhaness’ First String Quartet, composed in 1936. As vigorous, swirling dances proceed within the strings, a return of the primary topic within the brass varieties the motion’s triumphant climax.
The ultimate motion (Andante espressivo) returns to the contemplative grandeur of the chorale. A haunting ostinato determine begins within the harp, crests, and recedes. It has been described as “a 13-beat Indian raga-like chant.” The Symphony concludes as an imposing, shimmering hymn which evokes the ability, energy, and permanence of a mighty peak.
Born in New England in 1911, the Armenian-American Hovhaness was one of many nice musical mavericks of the 20 th century. As a composer, he turned away from the prevailing modernism early on to embrace a mix of tonality and modality by which East meets West. The conductor Leopold Stokowski commissioned Mysterious Mountain in 1955 for his debut live performance with the Houston Symphony. After the piece was accomplished, Stokowski urged the composer to present it a descriptive title, in addition to an opus quantity. On the time, Hovhaness’ music had not been catalogued, so Stokowski prompt the random opus variety of 132. Mysterious Mountain remained the official title till the early Seventies, when the work was reclassified as a Symphony. In his later years, Hovhaness drew inventive inspiration from the mountains of the Pacific Northwest, particularly the Cascade Vary, which was seen from his dwelling in Seattle.
In composing Mysterious Mountain, Hovhaness tried to know the fleeting, intangible music of sleep and desires. In a 1987 interview with Jackie Abramian, the composer mentioned,
I keep in mind listening to celestial ballet in my head as I lay right down to relaxation from writing the work. Later I transcribed what I heard in my sleep. After I wrote it, then heard it once more in my sleep, sure variations have been flawed. So I corrected it. Now I can’t bear to listen to it … it’s simply sure components transfer me. I am going out of the corridor every time the piece is carried out.
Mysterious Mountain was first recorded in 1958 by Fritz Reiner and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. This landmark stereo recording is within the hyperlinks beneath. Right here is a superb more moderen efficiency that includes Gerard Schwarz and the All-Star Orchestra:
5 Nice Recordings
Featured Picture: Mount Rainier within the state of Washington