In Alan Hovhaness' The Rubaiyat (1975) the composer's music provides a framework for spoken readings of verses from the eleventh-century Persian poet Omar Khayyam. Written at the suggestion of conductor André Kostelanetz, one of the composer's most ardent champions from the mid-1960s through the mid-1970s, The Rubaiyat is one of the few Hovhaness works that seems deliberately lightweight or "popular" in its aesthetic aims. This is not simply attributable to its use of the accordion as featured solo instrument; the melodic material, while typical of the composer in its modally inflected arabesques, seems particularly obvious, even clichéd at times. Furthermore, the combination of music by a composer known for his lofty spiritual visions with verses that boldly proclaim a hedonistic amorousness makes for a strange fusion of aesthetics--and rather uncharacteristic results.
Description by Walter Simmons