Maslanka Weekly: Best of the Web – No. 70, Evening

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

What is it about the period of time between the setting of the sun and the time we retire for bed that seems so peaceful – so simple and beautiful? This unique time of day has inspired music, poetry, dance, art, and literature across all cultures and time. As other sensitive souls throughout the ages, David certainly appreciated the quiet and serene atmosphere of the evening.

This week, we feature three of David’s compositions that traverse the evening landscape: “Evening Song” from Song Book for Alto Saxophone and Marimba, Evening Song for Horn and Piano, and “Our Prayer of Thanks” from A Carl Sandburg Reader.

Song Book for Alto Saxophone and Marimba – VII. Evening Song

From David’s Program Note:

Song Book was commissioned by Steven Jordheim and Dane Richeson of the Lawrence University Conservatory of Music, and was composed in the summer of 1998. The movements of Song Book are relatively brief. They have a particular thing to say, a particular mood and attitude to express, and then they are done. I think of the pieces as emotional scenes.

“Evening Song” brings to mind some of my favorite music, the Op. 116 Intermezzos by Brahms. “Evening Song,” like other pieces in the set, is an openly Romantic music. It is ultimately quiet and resigned, but has, over its course, an urgent and passionate statement to make.

Watch below as Heidi Radtke (Alto Saxophone) and Evan Chapman (Marimba) give a beautiful interpretation of this song.

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Evening Song for Horn and Piano

From David’s Program Note:

Evening Song is an arrangement of the first movement (“At This Time”) of my saxophone quartet, Songs for the Coming Day. The music appears to be utterly simple, yet requires a very mature and patient control of tempo, dynamics and breathing. There is a deep relaxation and sweetness in this music, and it will repay many times the effort spent to master it.

Watch below as Ian Zook (Horn) and Tracey Schimmel Reed (Piano) give a marvelous performance of this music.

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A Carl Sandburg Reader – XVII. Our Prayer of Thanks

From David’s Program Note:

I remember seeing Carl Sandburg being interviewed on the Today program sometime in the 1950’s. He was an old man, still physically alert, with a keen mind and a ready sense of humor. It must have been amazing, and a good laugh for him, a person born in the presidency of Ulysses S. Grant, to be interviewed on TV. To me, who had grown up with his poetry as a schoolchild, he knew so much about America that he seemed the embodiment of it. And yet he was the child of immigrants and spoke Swedish at home…as I was the grandchild of immigrants, though kept from the Polish language in order to be made into an American. It took me many years to break out of the “immigrant” mentality of “us against everybody,” and to realize that America was mine, deeply and completely mine. Carl Sandburg, with his poetry and his other writings, especially the monumental Lincoln biography, has been a life- long companion as I have searched for my own American roots.

In A Carl Sandburg Reader I have tried to let Sandburg’s voice tell his own take on the human condition – the masses, the poor, war, cynicism, faith, hope, acceptance – and to tell the story as well with his beloved folk songs. For this auspicious occasion of the 150th anniversary of the founding of Illinois State University I wanted a musical celebration, using the words of a native son of the Illinois prairie, that would speak deeply to our past, our present, and our future.

Watch below as Stephen Steele leads John Koch and the Illinois State University Wind Ensemble in a hauntingly beautiful performance of “Our Prayer of Thanks.”

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