Maslanka Weekly: Best of the Web – No. 5 – Masato Kumoi Saxophone Quartet

Maslanka Weekly highlights excellent performances of David Maslanka’s music from around the web.

With fourteen compositions featuring the saxophone or saxophone quartet, David Maslanka was one of the foremost composers of classical saxophone music in our day. His saxophone pieces are well-known and performed around the world. This week, we feature the Masato Kumoi Saxophone Quartet for their incomparable devotion to bringing the saxophone quartet music of Maslanka to life.

Songs for the Coming Day

We begin our feature of the Masato Kumoi Saxophone Quartet with Songs for the Coming Day, a piece that was commissioned and premiered by the quartet in 2012. The piece is in nine movements, and runs about 48 minutes. According to Maslanka, “The movements are relatively brief ‘songs without words’ with titles such as ‘Breathing,’ ‘Awakening,’ ‘Letting Go of the Past,’ and ‘The Soul is Here for its Own Joy.’ Eight of the nine movements are varying degrees of slow, emphasizing longer durations and quieter dynamics. There is a high demand for precise ensemble awareness and blended tone qualities. The title Songs for the Coming Day reflects my belief that under the chaotic surface of our world there is a rising creative energy through which is growing a new idea of living in harmony with ourselves and the earth.” Watch below as this amazing quartet gives a thrilling performance of the first two and one-half minutes of “The Soul is Here for its Own Joy.” Buckle your seatbelts!

 

Mountain Roads

Maslanka’s association with the Masato Kumoi Saxophone Quartet began several years ago when he received a CD in the mail with an unbidden recording of Mountain Roads. Maslanka recalls that, “When recordings come unbidden I am generally prepared for something less than I want to hear. But this rendition of Mountain Roads was the finest performance of the piece that I had ever heard. Since then (the quartet) has performed the piece many times and has promoted it widely among players in Japan. Watch below as the quartet gives a stunning live rendition of the final movement of Mountain Roads, “Finale: Alle Menschen müssen Sterben.”

 

Recitation Book

Maslanka said that “A recitation book is a collection of writings, often of a sacred nature, used for readings by a community. The music of this piece draws on old sources for each movement – Bach Chorales, a Gesualdo madrigal, and Gregorian Chant. A number of old variation techniques are employed throughout the piece. Recitation Book was composed for, premiered, and first recorded by the Masato Kumoi Saxophone Quartet of Tokyo.” Watch below as this outstanding ensemble performs the final movement of Recitation Book, “Fanfare/Variations on the chorale melody Durch Adams Fall.”

More info 

We want to thank the members of the Masato Kumoi Saxophone Quartet for their kindness, generosity, and dedication to the saxophone quartet music of David Maslanka.

  • Masato Kumoi, Soprano Saxophone
  • Wataru Sato, Alto Saxophone
  • Kazuyuki Hayashida, Tenor Saxophone
  • Takahiro Nishio, Baritone Saxophone

We would love to hear from you! If you know of any outstanding performances of David Maslanka’s music on the web, please email us at maslankaweekly@maslanka.org.