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Janabar Talin Shambala/Slovak Philharmonic Fong Ma [Import]

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Janabar, Talin, Shambala

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Amazon.com: 14 reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Exotic and simple; ancient and modern - all at once March 16 2008
By Russ - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Alan Hovhaness (1911-2000) wrote a lot of music; most of it totally unknown. Classifying the music of this eccentric composer is no mean task. Hovhaness' draws inspiration from a variety of sources, including baroque music, as well as the ancient music of Armenia, India, Japan and elsewhere. Further, Hovhaness composes music in a style that is at home with many twentieth century modernist trends (minimalism, aleatoric music), but at the same time looks back to ancient chants or folk music from across the world. That said, Hovhaness' music is immediately accessible and has a uniform style that allows the listener to readily identify the music's composer.

The present release contains three concertante works:

Shambala - concerto for sitar, violin and orchestra
Janabar - five hymns for piano, violin, trumpet and string orchestra
Talin - concerto for viola and string orchestra

Also included on this release is a half hour of Hovhaness talking about his music. These conversations were interesting, but they were a bit random. It seems that these conversations were cobbled together from multiple interviews conducted at various points over the composer's life.

At 45 minutes, Shambala (1969) is the most substantial piece on the program. Hovhaness spent time in India studying its music and meeting with various Indian musicians. And it is from India where Hovhaness draws his inspiration in composing this concerto. There is a duality within this concerto: the writing for the violin and orchestra is primarily structured and is played in defined time, while the sitar part is often improvisatory, with much of the part left to the discretion of the performer. This piece will likely sound quite exotic to any Western ears. The exoticism is primarily added through the violin and sitar writing. Although the concerto takes the form of one long continuous movement, the work can be divided into several sub-movements, with the recurring appearance of a mysteriously ominous processional serving as a boundary, of sorts, around several extended solo passages. This processional and the presence of aleatoric pitched percussion / pizzicato passages (that is, several parts are played together in free time) is not completely different from that of Hovhaness' nineteenth symphony (the 'Vishnu' symphony). However, this mysitcal piece is unique among Hovhaness' compositions and is definitely worth checking out.

Talin (1951) is a brief concerto for viola and string orchestra. The first and third movements are solemn in nature, while the second movement takes the form of a dance containing themes from Persia. The colorful harmonies of this 'estampie' entice the listener; however, it is the noble chorales of this concerto that are truly memorable.

Composed in 1950, the five hymns of Janabar ('Journey') are real gems. As with Shambala, I hear duality within each movement. The hymns contain passages where only the solo piano or violin is heard, which are contrasted against passages scored for string orchestra and trumpet. Hovhaness, in describing his music, indicated that he used the trumpet as the 'voice of God'. And indeed, the trumpet part is truly majestic. There is a lot to like here. From the sparklingly serene piano opening of the 'Sharagan' movement, to the modal colorings of the 'Toccata' - all of this is beautiful.

My rating for this release is based solely on my opinion this music and the performance of it. The rating I gave does not include consideration of my frustration with the format of this recording. With this release, the purchaser receives one disc: one side of this disc is in DVD audio format, while the other side is in CD audio format. The CD audio side only contains Shambala and one movement each of Janabar and Talin (maybe you can consider this the 'best of' the DVD audio side). The CD audio side also contains a PDF file which details additional information about each of the three works (not included in the accompanying booklet). I find the DVD audio format to be a bit maddening as it must be played on a DVD payer, and it is terribly difficult to convert the tracks to MP3 files (I like to listen to music through my Ipod). I suspect this complicated format contributed to the high price of this release (too high in my opinion). I am sorry to get into all of these technicalities, but this was an important factor for me.

In conclusion, admirers of Hovhaness will want to acquire this. The three disparate pieces here are each beautiful in their own way and only further my belief that there is much more to Hovhaness than what the mainstream music listening public currently believes. Those that enjoy Hovhaness often refer to the spiritual, calming, healing or uplifting qualities of his music. I, too, would apply those adjectives to the three compositions here. Such terms are not typically applied to classical music, but then again, there is nobody quite like Hovhaness.


Total Times:
DVD audio: 126 minutes
CD: 59 minutes
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Duality in More Ways Than One March 22 2008
By Thomas H. Ayers - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I was quite excited to learn of this release and purchased it from OgreOgress directly. I noted the DualDisc aspect of this recording, but it didn't register that I'd only be getting one movement each of Janabar and Talin on the CD side of the DualDisc. I figured that the DVD had video of the recording sessions. When I received it, I eagerly listened to the CD and discovered only four tracks: a movement of Janabar, a movement of Talin, Shambala in its entirety, and a track for the PDF file, which gives information on the various works. The DVD has no video.

The Music: The previous reviewer did a good job of describing the works on the CD, so I'll simply say that Janabar, a 35+ minute work, and Shambala, a 45 minute work, are substantial, fascinating works worthy of anyone's time. Of what I've heard so far, Janabar is a gripping work with long solos and interesting concertante passages. Shambala is a beautiful concerto for violin, sitar, and orchestra, and the notated violin part contrasting with the improvised sitar part make for a stimulating experience. I have not been a fan of Talin, so I won't comment on that work here.

The Medium: I do not like the DualDisc format in this particular case. I don't listen to CDs on my DVD player; I listen to them on my CD player when I'm working. I was truly looking forward to hearing Janabar in its entirety and can only listen to the first movement with my CD player. The DVD player on my computer has some problems, so I can't listen to it on my computer at the moment. I'm stuck with just one intriguing movement of Janabar. I'm quite disappointed. However, I am grateful that Shambala is provided in its entirety on the CD side of the disc, and that I've listened to more than once.

The DVD side of the DualDisc contains the interviews--snippets really--arranged by topic, with Hovhaness. I found some provocative, most interesting, and some unnecessary. Of course, you can hear Janabar and Talin in their entirety here. My concern is that I must leave the TV on while I listen to these, and I'm afraid that almost 1.5 hours of virtually the same image displayed on the screen will damage it--I have no screensaver for my TV! Could the DVD have included videotaped interviews with performers? Surely this project was an adventure worth relating!

Personally, I would rather have bought a 2-CD set with all of this material, including the interviews. None of the material demands DVD treatment--there's no video--and any audio benefit from DVD playback is certainly outweighed, in my opinion, by the inconvenience of having to listen to Janabar and Talin on the DVD player.

Bottom Line: Given that the DualDisc contains a PDF file on the CD side and all of the music can be found on the DVD side, I would highly recommend this disc to those who listen to their music on the computer. For those, like me, who use a CD player, you're going to have to view this product as a purchase for Shambala with teasers for Talin and Janabar. If you're willing to play the whole thing on your DVD player/TV, then you'll get to enjoy everything. Highly recommended for the music. One star docked for the inconvenient and frustrating format. No more DualDiscs like this one, please.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Christina Fong Does Hovhaness Dec 4 2008
By Jeff Redmond - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra's very own Christina Fong joins with an international cast of multi-talented artists, including Rastislav Stur, Gaurav Mazumdar, Paul Hersey, and Michael Bowman. The Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra performs the stimulating Janabar, Talin, Shambala works of famed composer Alan Hovhaness. This Audio DVD is an absolute must for all serious collectors, and eager enthusiasts of exciting exotic music. Enjoy! {:-)
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Enjoyable Collection June 6 2014
By violamom - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Overall I am struck by the stark yet beautiful clarity of the recordings. It is a wonderful collection of Hovhaness pieces influenced by Armenian and Indian music. "Janabar" is truly a journey of reflection created by the different combinations of soloists with the orchestra. As a violist, I appreciate the depth and soulful quality of the instrument Ms. Fong reveals during "Talin". The piece seems mystical as does the composition "Shambala". The orchestra is balanced quite well as an accompaniment to the sitar. It is a plus to hear Alan Hovhaness' reflections and stories. This is a disc I will return to again and again.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
An Atmosphere Or A Carpet Of Sounds May 29 2014
By Jeff Jones - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
OgreOgress's productions's release of Alan Hovhaness's "Janabar, Talin, Shambala" is a recording full of surprises from the very opening. The calming repetitious beat of a single piano leading into orchestration..still calm. The opening piece "Janabar' Journey' Opus 81" (1950) played by the Slovak Philharmonic conducted by Rastislav Štúr on this duel Audio DVD/CD (the first side is Audio DVD which needs to be played on a DVD player, the second is CD, playable on any CD player), released by OgreOgrs productions, really seams to set the tone, surprise, calm and beauty. "Janabr' Jorney' Opus 81" (A concertante, I believe) is in five movements 1. "Fantasy" (11:54) 2. "Yerk" ' Song' (8:07) 3. "Toccata" (3:22) 4. "Sharagan 'Hymn'" (8:47) and "Tapor 'Processional' " (4:47), written for violin, trumpet piano and strings. Full of unexpected surprises in tempo changes,and world influences, very subtle in their beauty. This is the first premiere recording of this pieces written in 1950, I believe during the time he was teaching at The Boston Conservatory which may be considered as his "Conservatory years" 1948 - 1951.

The 2nd piece is "Talin Op. 93" (1951) in three movements 1. "Chant" (6:33) 2. "Estampie" (1:51) and 3rd. "Canzona" (7:54). "Talin" is a viola concerto played beautifully, with Christina Fong as the soloist. This isn't the first time "Talin" has been recorded, it was on a 1952 MGM LP. but this is Talin's first digital recording.

Then comes the biggest surprise of all for me, "Shambola Op. 223" (1969)- 45 minutes! I hadn't read the booklet before I started listening and was completely caught off guard, "Shambola" was written for Violin, Sitar and Orchestra! I was really not expecting sitar, this is beautiful! So now it was time to read up a little. I found on the trusty " the Alan Hovhaness web site" that "Shambola" was "originally composed for Yehudi Menuhin and Ravi Shankar (who performed and recorded as a duo in the 1960's and were both acquaintances of Hovhaness) but never received its premiere". So here is Shambola's premiere in all of it's glory with the sitar being played fittingly by Gaurav Mazumdar, one of Ravi Shankar's most highly respected students. Definitely a beautiful and unexpected piece, what a way to conclude a disc full of surprises. But wait, there's more! Actually the fist side of the disc concludes with a 28 minute interview and conversation between Alan Hovhaness and Antony Hopkins, talking about religion, nature and music. It's really very nice to be able to hear Hovhaness's insights.

The second side of the disc (the CD side) can be played on a standard CD player, basically all of the music is represented here except for "Talin Op. 93" (1951)" , which is just the second movement "Estampie (1:51). Really a great idea if you think about it, you could play this side of the disc anywhere, like in your car etc. I've thanked them before but OgreOgress productions and players needs to be thanked for this incredible undertaking, as usual the playing and the sound quality are top notch, I cant recommend it highly enough!

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