Maslanka Weekly: Best of the Web – No. 104, Recordings of Lesser-Known Works

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

David’s music for winds is especially well known. Among his more than 150 works are over 50 pieces for wind ensemble, including eight symphonies, seventeen concertos, a Mass, and many concert pieces. His chamber music includes four wind quintets, five saxophone quartets, and many works for solo instrument and piano. In addition, he has written a variety of orchestral and choral pieces.

Although David’s music is famous around the world, there are some compositions with which very few people are familiar. This week, we feature recordings of three lesser-known works of David’s: Images from “The Old Gringo,” Little Symphony on the name BArnEy CHilDS, and Orpheus.

Images from “The Old Gringo”

From David’s Program Note:

Images was composed on a whim. As I read the novel, The Old Gringo, by Carlos Fuentes I found myself underlining phrases and passages of striking imagery. Out of more than fifty of these I selected eleven as the basis for brief tone poems – lines such as the following:

“Loneliness is an absence of time.”

“Your soul is no different than your dreams. Both are instantaneous.”

“…unforgettable wounds…”

The pieces are studies in instrumental color, and range from quietly interior to wildly virtuosic.

Watch below as McKenzie Fetters, Violin, Abbey Atwater, Clarinet, and Gabrielle Claus, Piano give a terrific performance of this work.

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Little Symphony on the name BArnEy CHilDS

From David’s Program Note:

Little Symphony was written as a part of a birthday offering to composer Barney Childs. Over the years, Barney had been friend and mentor to dozens of younger composers. I am very happy to say that I was among them. On the occasion of his 64th birthday, his performing colleague, clarinetist Phillip Rehfeldt, asked many of us to compose brief pieces for solo clarinet. He asked that we try to hold ourselves to a single page, and I took him literally. My intent became to write the biggest possible piece in the shortest space. The result is this four-movement ironically titled “Symphony.” The work was originally published in the now out-of-print Etudes for the Twenty-first-Century Clarinetist, an anthology/collection of 37 works representing a wide range of contemporary clarinet techniques.

Barney didn’t care much for the old German masters or that way of musical thinking, and so my offering is a bit of a musical twist of the nose. In addition I made this a signature piece for Barney – pitch material comes only from the “musical” letters from Barney’s name: BArnEy CHilDS, (B A E C B♭ D E♭).

Watch below as David Cook, Clarinet gives a fantastic performance of this music.

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From David’s Program Note:

Orpheus is a musical retelling of the tale of Orpheus who was so torn by the death of his beloved Eurydice that he descended to the underworld in an attempt to bring her back to life. His tragic failure dooms them to an eternity apart. The fruit of tragedy is beautiful music! The center of my piece is entitled “Orpheus” Song: I cannot go on living apart from her.

Watch below as Christin Schillinger, Bassoon, Albie Micklich, Bassoon, and Andrew Heglund, Marimba give the World Premiere Recording of this work.

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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