Tone Poem Tuesday

I make an attempt every now and then, maybe once every year or two, to acquaint myself with the music of Alan Hovhaness, and I invariably come up short. I don’t really know why, but I’ve yet to find a work of his that really speaks to me on some deep level. His music is often described as naturalistic and mystical, but ultimately I don’t usually hear that; all I find in his work is long meandering passages that sound like melody but…aren’t, tempos that never change much, and long pages of pizzicato work in the low strings. I know that this is probably unfair, given how amazingly prolific he was…and that’s why I keep trying every now and then.

Anyway, I tried this piece and honestly, I didn’t get anywhere with it, aside from some lovely writing in the middle for the horn and the trumpet. I did like that passage a great deal. If anyone out there wants to set me straight on Hovhaness, I’m willing to listen!

Here is the Symphony No. 6, “Celestial Gate” (a single-movement work that bears no formal resemblance to the classical symphony) by Alan Hovhaness.

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