Maslanka Weekly: Best of the Web – No. 75, New Performances of Chamber Music

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

With ten symphonies, sixteen concertos, and many large works for wind ensemble, most people are unaware that David Maslanka wrote over sixty pieces of chamber music. Much of this music is well-known and played throughout the world.

This week, we feature three new performances of chamber works (or works written with chamber music contained therein): Quintet for Winds No. 4, “Inward” from Concerto for Saxophone Quartet and Wind Ensemble, and David’s transcription of J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations for Saxophone Quartet.

Quintet for Winds No. 4

The last of David’s four works for wind quintet, this quintet is in three movements: I. “Slow,” II. “A Lullaby, Inward and Hesitant,” and III. “Very Fast.” Premiered in 2008 by the Florida Wind Quintet, this relatively unknown work is a jewel in the wind quintet repertoire featuring David at the height of his compositional mastery.

Watch below as the Pentaèdre Wind Quintet gives a stunning performance of this music.

More info 

Concerto for Saxophone Quartet and Wind Ensemble – I. Inward

From David’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.

(The) 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 as Lorenzo Passerini leads the Mestizo Saxophone Quartet and the Wind Ensemble of the F.A. Bonporti Conservatory in a sublime performance of highlights from Movement I of this concerto.

More info 

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 West Saxophone Quartet performs this music.

More info 

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