Maslanka Weekly: Best of the Web – No. 12, The Clarinet

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

David Maslanka’s musical endeavors began at age nine when he played the clarinet in his elementary music program. He studied privately on this instrument at the New England Conservatory of Music and even performed with the Boston Youth Orchestra as a senior in high school. Through these formative musical experiences, David always retained a special love for the clarinet throughout his career as a composer. This week, we examine three of David’s works for clarinet: Concerto for Clarinet and Wind Ensemble, Little Symphony on the name BArnEy CHilDS, and Desert Roads: Four Songs for Clarinet and Wind Ensemble.

Concerto for Clarinet and Wind Ensemble

Maslanka said, “The Concerto for Clarinet and Wind Ensemble grows out of my life-long association with the clarinet. It was my beginning instrument over sixty years ago, and has stayed with me all through the years. I have written many pieces for it, and it is now a deeply personal voice through which my music speaks freely and passionately. This concerto is full of deep feeling, but it does not have a personal story. The two movements, ‘Lamentation’ and ‘Dance,’ present the classic masks of tears and laughter. ‘Lamentation’ is very interior and very beautiful – it breaks my heart. ‘Dance’ unfolds in the old sonata form with clear melodies, a bubbling and sometimes urgent energy, and a final release into beautiful quiet.” Watch below as William K. Wakefield leads David Cook and the University of Oklahoma Wind Symphony in an outstanding performance of the Concerto from April 18, 2016.

More info 

Little Symphony on the name BArnEy CHilDS

According to Maslanka, “Little Symphony was written as a part of a birthday offering to composer Barney Childs. Over the years, Barney had been friend and mentor to dozens of younger composers. I am very happy to say that I was among them. On the occasion of his 64th birthday, his performing colleague, clarinetist Phillip Rehfeldt, asked many of us to compose brief pieces for solo clarinet. He asked that we try to hold ourselves to a single page, and I took him literally. My intent became to write the biggest possible piece in the shortest space. The result is this four-movement ironically titled ‘Symphony.’ The work was originally published in the now out-of-print Etudes for the Twenty-first-Century Clarinetist, an anthology/collection of thirty-seven works representing a wide range of contemporary clarinet techniques. Barney didn’t care much for the old German masters or that way of musical thinking, and so my offering is a bit of a musical twist of the nose. In addition, I made this a signature piece for Barney – pitch material comes only from the “musical” letters from Barney’s name: BArnEy CHilDS, (B A E C B♭ D E♭). Watch below as David Cook gives a masterful performance of Little Symphony.

More info 

Desert Roads: Four Songs for Clarinet and Wind Ensemble

Lasting around twenty-seven minutes, Maslanka composed Desert Roads for clarinet and wind ensemble in 2005. When asked about this music, Maslanka said “The title ‘Desert Roads’ suggests an interior journey, a time of searching, of not knowing, of creative incubation. I have chosen to call these four movements ‘songs’ for clarinet and wind ensemble. This connects them directly to the Romantic idea of ‘songs without words.’ They are intimate rather than symphonic expressions. Songs by Schubert, Schumann, and Brahms are some of my favorite music.” Watch below as Pamela Bustos leads Sharra Wagner and the University of Wisconsin-Superior Symphonic Band in an excellent performance of this work.

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