June 24th 2008    Fourth Naxos all-Hovhaness disc unveils more premiere recordings

June 2008 sees Naxos release its fourth all-Hovhaness disc, this one featuring three world premiere recordings of late orchestral works.

The opening work is the (until now) very obscure Fanfare for the New Atlantis of 1975. The title of this brief but uplifting concert opener pays homage to the novel of the same name by English philosopher and statesman Sir Francis Bacon, a lifelong hero of the composer (and dedicatee of his early 'Exile Symphony').

Then follows the four-movement Guitar Concerto No.2 of 1985. The soloist here is Javier Calderón who, interestingly enough, commissioned and premiered the composer's Guitar Concerto No.1 but did not perform that work when it was recorded for Naxos in 2005. Whereas the first guitar concerto was scored for full orchestra, this work is a lighter affair with an orchestra of strings only.

The final work on this disc is Symphony No.63 'Loon Lake' from 1988, which, as the disc states, is full of nostalgia for the New Hampshire countryside of the composer's youth. Commissioned by the New Hampshire Music Festival in conjunction with the Loon Preservation Society, the composer was specifically requested to evoke the sound of the loon cry in this work.

All the music was recorded in Scotland in January 2007. As with the previous three all-Hovhaness Naxos discs, the notes are provided by the composer's widow and cover painting is by the composer's mother-in-law, Japanese artist Jun Fujihara.

1: Fanfare for the New Atlantis Op.281 (1975) [6:57]

2-5: Guitar Concerto No.2* Op.394 (1985) [26:05]

6-7 Symphony No.63 'Loon Lake' Op.411 (1988) [26:27]

Royal Scottish National Orchestra,
conducted by Stewart Robertson,
*Javier Calderón, guitar

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The entire disc was broadcast for the first time on the WPRB radio show Classical Discoveries which is hosted by Hovhaness enthusiast, and one-time friend, Marvin Rosen. Mr. Rosen happened to be at the premiere of the Loon Lake symphony back in the 1980s, so it seems a little uncanny that he presented its world premiere broadcast some 20 years on. Classical Discoveries celebrated its first decade on air in May 2007 and has championed Hovhaness perhaps more than any other broadcast program. Devoted to "little known repertoire of all musical periods", the show airs Wednesdays 5.30-11.00am on WPRB out of Princeton, NJ (103.3 fm) and can be listened to online at www.wprb.com.

Web links

Listen to audio clips
Javier Calderón
Classical Discoveries

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