Mysterious Mountain (Symphony No. 2) (1955)
Mountains are symbols, Iike pyramids, of man's attempt to know God. Mountains are symbolic meeting pIaces between the mundane and spiritual worId. To some, the Mysterious Mountain may be the phantom peak, unmeasured, thought to he higher than Everest, as seen from great distances by fliers in Tibet. To some, it may be the solitary mountain, the tower of strength over a countryside - Fujiyama, Ararat, Monadnock, Shasta, or Grand Teton.
The first and Iast movements are hymn-like and lyrical, making use of irregular metrical forms. The first subject of the second movement, a double fugue, is developed in a slow vocal style. The rapid second subject is played by the strings, with its own counter subject and with strict four-voice canonic episodes and triple counterpoint episodes.
In the Iast movement a chant in 7/4 time is played softly by muted horns and trombones. A giant wave in a 13-beat meter rises to a climax and recedes. . . a middIe melody is sung by the oboes and clarinets in a quintuple beat. Muted violins return with the earIier chant, which is gradually given to the full orchestra.
-- Alan Hovhaness