Maslanka Weekly: Best of the Web – No. 38, Recent Maslanka CD Releases

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

Audio recordings of David Maslanka’s music are always high in demand. With more professional, semi-professional, and collegiate musicians playing David’s music, there is hardly a major composition that does not have one or more studio recordings. This week, we feature three new recordings of favorite works: Tone Studies, Concerto for Saxophone Quartet and Wind Ensemble, and First Light.

Tone Studies

According to David, “Tone Studies is a set of six pieces which are for the most part slow and quiet. There is no really fast music in the whole piece, and only two fortissimo passages. I chose the title Tone Studies because each movement, and in fact each moment, offers a large number of choices about quality of sound, choices that will evolve with deepening study. The key to successful performance for both pianist and saxophonist is patience – patience with tempi, patience with fermatas, patient and careful listening into tones produced by each instrument and by the two together. It is very easy to play without deep listening. This music asks and requires that you listen deeply. When you do, a special settled heart energy arises through the performance.”

Watch below to hear Nicholas May (Alto Saxophone) and Ellen Sommer (Piano) give a beautiful rendition of the first movement of this work, “Jordan.”

More info 

Click on the image below to purchase your own recording of Tone Studies: The Saxophone Music of David Maslanka.

Concerto for Saxophone Quartet and Wind Ensemble

From David Maslanka’s Program Note:

For a period of time in the past year my musical listening was intently focused on the keyboard concertos of J.S. Bach. The invention of the keyboard concerto is attributed to Bach. His pieces in this genre are small musical gems, finding an exquisite balance of feeling, technique, and form. It is the element of balance that intrigues me the most – letting the music speak what it needs to as economically as possible.

My Concerto for Saxophone Quartet and Wind Ensemble reflects some of these values. It is not programmatic – no stories to tell beyond what the music wants to say, and what it sparks in each listener. The three movements are substantial but concise. The solo quartet is often integrated into the accompanying group in the fashion of a Baroque Concerto Grosso.

Two Chorale melodies appear in the Concerto, We Should Now Praise Christ, and Only Trust in God to Guide You. I have used Chorale melodies in my music for many years. These melodies open something deep in me. The Chorales have transformed my composing, and my composing has absorbed and transformed the Chorales. My use of the Chorales is not about preaching the Christian faith, but feeling the full power of melodies that have grown out of the Earth, and through centuries of human experience. They have been my doorway to the roots of our musical language.

Watch below to hear Stephen K. Steele lead the Iridium Quartet and the Illinois State University Wind Symphony in a remarkable performance of the first movement of this work, “Slow.”

More info 

Click on the image below to purchase your own recording of Maslanka & Magnuson: Saxophone Concertos.

First Light

According to David, “First Light has two characters. They are marked in the musical score as ‘unforgettable wounds – darkness,’ and ‘perseverance – first light.’ It has been my long personal experience that no real change, no transformation, occurs without crisis. We don’t move if we don’t have to. This is as true on the societal and environmental levels as it is on the personal. We are facing huge crises in our society and in our world, with every aspect of human darkness rising to the surface. It is my faith that we, with imagination, work, and perseverance, are at the edge of a profound transformation – a movement into light.”

Watch below to hear Scott Hagen lead the University of Utah Wind Ensemble in a resolute performance of this music.

More info 

Click on the image below to purchase your own recording of The Music of David Maslanka: Volume 4, Symphony No. 10.

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