Maslanka Weekly: Best of the Web – No. 17, The Bassoon

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

David Maslanka loved writing for all wind instruments and had a deep understanding for how they worked and what sounds they were capable of producing. This week, we examine three of David’s works for bassoon: Sonata for Bassoon and Piano, Orpheus, and Little Concerto for Six Players.

Sonata for Bassoon and Piano

Sonata for Bassoon and Piano is in four movements. The first two are organized as a recitative and aria. The third follows the same pattern but contains both elements in the single movement. Maslanka said, “The finale is an energetic romp that gives a nod to two of my favorite composers: Poulenc and Shostakovich. The music is light-hearted and fun, but with a fierce edge.” Watch below as Cayla Bellamy and Robin Guy give a beautiful rendition of the second movement of this piece.

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Written for two bassoons and marimba, Maslanka said that “Orpheus is a musical retelling of the tale of Orpheus who was so torn by the death of his beloved Eurydice that he descended to the underworld in an attempt to bring her back to life. His tragic failure dooms them to an eternity apart. The fruit of tragedy is beautiful music! The center of my piece is entitled ‘Orpheus’ Song: I cannot go on living apart from her.'” Watch below as Phelan Young, Bassoon, Amanda Kawucha, Bassoon, and Indervir Singh Sandhu, Marimba give a thrilling performance of this music.

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Little Concerto for Six Players

According to Maslanka, “In 1990, I was a guest composer for the Chamber Music Conference of the East at Bennington College in Vermont. I was asked to write a piece to be prepared and performed by six amateur players. This led to the idea of a small concerto that would expose them all in a more or less equal way. The Baroque concerto grosso model comes closest to what I have done. My piece has three movements, each calling for a pair of soloists, with the others in more or less supportive roles. The lead instruments in the first movement are Violin and Bassoon, in the second Oboe and Piano, and in the third, Flute and Clarinet. The musical influences are fairly clear. The first movement owes a debt to Stravinsky, the second to Poulenc–a long time favorite–and the third to Brahms, with an overlay of my Polish heritage. Watch below as Derek Harris leads six instrumentalists from West Texas A&M University in an outstanding performance of this work.

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