Maslanka Weekly: Best of the Web – No. 68, More New Performances of Saxophone Music

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 three new performances of some of David’s best saxophone music: Songs for the Coming DayConcerto for Alto Saxophone and Wind Ensemble, and David’s transcription of J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations for Saxophone Quartet.

Songs for the Coming Day – VIII. The Soul is Here for its Own Joy

From David’s Program Note:

Songs for the Coming Day is in nine movements, and runs about 48 minutes. It was commissioned by the Masato Kumoi Sax Quartet and consortium. 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 the Synthèse Quartet gives a marvelous performance of Mvt. VIII, “The Soul is Here for its Own Joy.”

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Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Wind Ensemble – IV. Interlude: Starry Night

From David’s Program Note:

“Starry Night” is not a quiet night! There is both mystery and playfulness in this music, and playfulness finally wins out, erupting into an extended dance episode with a very baroque feel. Of all the movements, this one is most nearly a scherzo.

Watch below as the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory Wind Symphony accompanies Jared Marble (Alto Saxophone) in a superb rendition of this music.

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Goldberg Variations, J.S. Bach (Transcription)

David has done a straight transcription of the entire Goldberg Variations following the keyboard edition of Hans Bischoff (Kalmus). All ornamentation has been carefully written out, and he has raised the key to A-flat from the original G to make more congenial fingerings for saxophones.

Commenting on this effort, David said “The effect of ‘opening up’ the original keyboard texture to four saxophone voices is startling and quite good. Goldberg Variations is a lot of music, and the requirement to learn it all, and then shape a performance, is daunting. However, this is some of the best music by a great composer, and every bit of effort toward mastering it will be repaid a thousand fold.”

Watch below as the Citrus Saxophone Quartet performs this music at the 2nd Asia Saxophone Congress.

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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