Sunday, September 11, 2005

Mr. Hovhaness?

So i have some fondness for Hovhaness in concept, and his mystic mountain symphony is a gem, but its hard to have true artistic sympathies for someone who clearly valued quantity over quality. A phrase (is it from dostoyevsky? i dont remember) came to mind when listening on the radio to one of his lesser known works: Of noble birth, but impoverished from the begining. That pretty much sums up to me several, if not most of his compositions. His works are still being discovered, it seems, so another jewel may pop up.

Im currently exploring his website, and listening to his cello concerto, which isnt bad, really. A little campy, maybe, in its blatent, beating-out of "eastern" scales. But overall, its a solid work. Its not really compelling until the end of the long, sprawling work. Its clear he didnt have the traditional approach to melodic content, an original approach that, again, works once you see it loop back as it does in the end- though it seemed to take forever to get there!

I still dont know how i feel about all this mystic talk and eastern philosophical connections. (the same goes for you, Mr. Cage, and dont think i dont see you in the corner, Henry Cowell) Seems, again, more of a pretence, a whim, than an authentic profession of eastern ideas. Meh.


rgable said...

I can't speak about Hovhaness but Cowell's use of spirituality as an influence seems sincere. He was part of a theosophic community in California as a teen-ager. And from what I remember, he felt a spiritual dimension in the use of dissonance.

jake said...

Hovhaness was deeply influenced by the spiritual content of his Armenian background. I don't think this was a trendy affectation as you seem to suggest.