ALAN HOVHANESS (1911-2000): Symphony No. 48 "Vision of Andromeda", Op. 355 (World Premiere Recording), Concerto for Soprano Saxophone and Strings, Op. 344, Prelude and Quadruple Fugue, Op. 128.
Catalogue Number: 02Q010
Description: This symphony had an unpromising start at the time of its premiere, which is why we haven't seen it on disc before now. Inspired by the Andromeda spiral galaxy, the four-movement work is typical Hovahaness, with ecstatic cosmic dances and soaring hymns interspersed with threads of beautiful melismatic melody for soloists within the orchestra, and the composer's trademark cumulative fugal textures. The Prelude and Quadruple Fugue is an early work, formally much more rigorous than the many larger works that followed, and demonstrating a mastery of counterpoint. The modal first subject of the fugue is one of the composer's most persistent 'earworms' - don't listen to it unless you want it stuck in your head for days. The unassuming little concerto is a non-stop fountain of melody; the first movement an extended aria for the soloist, strikingly reminiscent of the ravishing flute solo from the Odysseus Symphony; the second a folksy intermezzo, and the finale another lovely song, underpinned by Hovhaness' unmistakable gorgeous harmonic progressions. Greg Banaszak (sax), Eastern Music Festival Orchestra; Gerard Schwarz.