Maslanka Weekly: Best of the Web – No. 64, More Recent Maslanka CD Releases

  • Photo by Zachary C. Person

Photo by Zachary C. Person

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: Mass, Remember Me, and Symphony No. 4.

Mass

From David’s Program Note:

I have come to understand that transformation is the main theme of my life. Over the course of many years and a long inner journey, I have gravitated toward the Latin Mass as the significant statement of transformation. If I have gravitated toward the Mass, I must also acknowledge the action of God in all the years of my life, especially in the years of turmoil and uncertainty, moving me toward this point of opening and understanding. If transformation is the issue, then transformation toward what? The center of the Mass is the Credo, and the center of the Credo is the Crucifixus. For me the Crucifixus symbolizes the opening of the ego, and the Resurrexit the birth of the inner child. The whole of the Mass supports and makes plain this inner transformation and its result: the heart of love, the voice of praise, the assurance that the universe is ultimately personal and that no one is lost. In mysterious statements and in a “dead” language, the Mass texts speak to the opening of the heart and its connection to God.

Almost from the start of my thinking about the Mass, I was moved to include the “female creative,” or the “Holy Mother,” an image which has arisen in many forms in my meditative life. I asked my friend Richard Beale to consider the problem. His marvelous and almost instantaneous response was Hymn to Sophia, Holy Wisdom, a set of seven poems on the “Holy Mother” theme, which I have used as preludes to the Latin texts. I must say that the awareness of the “Holy Mother” has become over a number of years the significant catalyst for my creative work, and I acknowledge this presence in my life with a sense of wonder and gratitude.

Watch below as Christopher C. Chapman leads Soprano Amy Hansen, Baritone Nicolai Strommer, The Oregon State University Wind Ensemble, The Oregon State University Chamber Choir, The Corvallis Repertory Singers, and Bella Voce in “Dona Nobis Pacem” from Mass.

More info 

Click on the image below to purchase your own recording of David Maslanka Vol. 5: Mass.

Remember Me: Music for Cello and Nineteen Players

From David’s Program Note:

This composition was inspired by my reading of a “relatively minor” Holocaust event – the extermination of 5,000 Jews in a small town – in William L. Shirer’s Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. An eye-witness description of a Jewish family about to be slaughtered – mother, father, 10-year-old son, grandmother gently bouncing a year-old baby and making it smile – forcefully riveted my mind and heart. This music is for the baby – a single death, through which it is possible to begin to experience the massive horror of the totality.

Watch below as Brian Lamb leads Tess Remy-Schumacher, Cello, and members of the University of Central Oklahoma Wind Symphony in a moving performance of this music.

More info 

Click on the image below to purchase your own recording Remember Me on the CD Kindred Spirits.

Symphony No. 4

From David’s Program Note:

The sources that give rise to a piece of music are many and deep. It is possible to describe the technical aspects of a work – its construction principles, its orchestration – but nearly impossible to write of its soul nature except through hints and suggestions.

The roots of Symphony No. 4 are many. The central driving force is the spontaneous rise of the impulse to shout for the joy of life. I feel it is the powerful voice of the earth that comes to me from my adopted western Montana, and the high plains and mountains of central Idaho. My personal experience of the voice is one of being helpless and torn open by the power of the thing that wants to be expressed – the welling-up shout that cannot be denied. I am set aquiver and am forced to shout and sing. The response in the voice of the earth is the answering shout of thanksgiving, and the shout of praise.

Out of this, the hymn tune Old Hundred, several other hymn tunes (the Bach chorales Only Trust in God to Guide You and Christ Who Makes Us Holy), and original melodies which are hymn-like in nature, form the backbone of Symphony No. 4.

To explain the presence of these hymns, at least in part, and to hint at the life of the Symphony, I must say something about my long-time fascination with Abraham Lincoln. From Carl Sandburg’s monumental Abraham Lincoln, I offer two quotes. The first is a description of Lincoln in death by his close friend David R. Locke:

“I saw him, or what was mortal of him, in his coffin. The face had an expression of absolute content, or relief, at throwing off a burden such as few men have been called on to bear – a burden which few men could have borne. I have seen the same expression on his living face only a few times, when after a great calamity he had come to great victory. It was the look of a worn man suddenly relieved. Wilkes Booth did Abraham Lincoln the greatest service man could possible do for him – he gave him peace.

The second, referring to the passage through the country from Washington D.C. to Springfield, Illinois of the coffin bearing Lincoln’s body:

To the rotunda of Ohio’s capitol, on a mound of green moss dotted with white flowers, rested the coffin on April 28, while 8,000 persons passed by each hour from 9:30 in the morning till four in the afternoon. In the changing red-gold of a rolling prairie sunset, to the slow exultation of brasses rendering Old Hundred, and the muffled boom of minute guns, the coffin was carried out of the rotunda and taken to the funeral train.

For me, Lincoln’s life and death are as critical today as they were more than a century ago. He remains a model for this age. Lincoln maintained in his person the tremendous struggle of opposites raging in the country in his time. He was inwardly open to the boiling chaos, out of which he forged the framework of a new unifying idea. It wore him down and killed him, as it wore and killed the hundreds of thousands of soldiers in the civil war, as it has continued to wear and kill by the millions up to the present day. Confirmed in the world by Lincoln was the unshakable idea of the unity of the human race, and by extension the unity of all life, and by further extension, the unity of all life with all matter, with all energy, and with the silent and seemingly empty and unfathomable mystery of our origins.

Out of chaos and the fierce joining of opposite comes new life and hope. From this impulse I used Old Hundred, known as the Doxology – a hymn of praise to God; Praise God from Whom all Blessings FlowGloria in excelsis Deo – the mid-sixteenth century setting of Psalm 100. Psalm 100 reads in part:

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.
Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

I have used Christian symbols because they are my cultural heritage, but I have tried to move through them to a depth of universal humanness, to an awareness that is not defined by religious label. My impulse through this music is to speak to the fundamental human issues of transformation and re-birth in this chaotic time.

Watch below as Andrew Yozviak leads the West Chester University Wind Ensemble in an excellent performance of the entire symphony.

More info 

Click on the image below to purchase your own recording Symphony No. 4 on the CD Blessings Flow.

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.

By |2019-09-12T00:02:12+00:0010 September 2019|Featured, Maslanka Weekly, Mass, Remember Me, Symphony No. 4|