Maslanka Weekly: Best of the Web – No. 95, More 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: Quintet for Winds No. 3, Quintet for Winds No. 1, and Sonata for Oboe and Piano.

Quintet for Winds No. 3 – II. Moderate

From David’s Program Note:

In recent years I have developed an abiding interest in the Bach Chorales, singing and playing them daily as warm-up for my composing time, and making my own four-part settings in the old style. The chorales now regularly find their way into my music, and have become a significant “leaping off” point for me.

The first movement of Quintet No. 3 opens with the chorale “Ihr Gestim ihr hohlen Lufte” (“Your stars, your cavernous sky.”) The movement is a “continuous play” kind of piece. After the chorale there is a sharply contrasting first theme, which works its way over time into a second theme, and this becomes the subject of a short and very pushy set of variations. There is a restatement of the first theme, and the movement ends with a blunt presentation of a new chorale: “Christe, der du bist Tag und Licht” (Christ, you are day and light.”)

In the second movement, the chorale “Ermuntre dich, mein schwacher Geist” (“Take courage, my weak spirit”) serves as a backdrop for an impassioned flute soliloquy. This is an intimate and personal music. The movement closes with a simple and uninterrupted statement of the chorale.

The third movement is exceptionally demanding for the performers because of its speed and length. It is something of a sonata form. However, the second theme, which sounds like a chorale melody, becomes the subject of a set of variations. The movement finishes with a partial recapitulation and an extended coda.

Watch below as the Plaza Winds give a marvelous performance of Movement II.

More info 

Quintet for Winds No. 1 – Movement III.

From David’s Program Note:

Quintet for Winds No. 1 was composed in 1984 for the Manhattan Wind Quintet, and premiered by them at Symphony Space in New York City. The music has no particular story to tell, and might be considered a short symphony for five players. There is a character of mystery about the music. Ideas are deceptively simple, even innocent-sounding, yet each movement unfolds with an increasing depth and dramatic urgency. Each is a life story without words. The second movement does have an external reference: The New York city subway system. At my home stop of 200th street in Manhattan, out-of-service trains were often parked with their air compressors running. The harmonic complex of forced sustained sounds inspired this movement.

Watch below as Catharsis Winds gives a magnificent performance of Movement III.

More info 

Sonata for Oboe and Piano

From David’s Program Note:

This music was inspired by the idea of ecstatic vision, of seeing the beauty of the world directly as it is, without story of interpretation – direct, immediate, powerful, perception. As such, there is a quality of being swept up and swept along, regardless of one’s wishes, and also of being held in rapt stasis. Great demands are made of both the solo oboist and the pianist.

Watch below as Andrew Magie, Oboe and Ning Yu, Piano give an exceptional performance of 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