Maslanka Weekly: Best of the Web – No. 8, The Sonata

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

Most people are unaware that David Maslanka wrote over sixty pieces of chamber music. Of those compositions, Maslanka wrote a “Sonata” for alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, oboe, bassoon, and horn, each with very demanding piano accompaniment writing. This week, we feature outstanding performances of Sonata for Alto Saxophone and Piano, Sonata for Oboe and Piano, and Sonata for Bassoon and Piano.

Sonata for Alto Saxophone and Piano

About his Sonata for Alto Saxophone and Piano, Maslanka said, “The Sonata alternates between an innocent stroll in the park and a fierce breaking of tonal and formal boundaries. The three movements are personal adaptations of old forms – the first a sonata, the second an ABA song form, and the third a rondo. Each movement has a turbulent, eruptive quality that takes this music away from its historical models and makes it very much a music of our time.” Watch below as Hyung-Ryoul Kim and E-Na Song give a rousing performance of this music.

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Sonata for Oboe and Piano

Sonata for Oboe and Piano is an intense piece requiring great sustaining power from the oboist. It is a reflection on a shamanic poem from Eskimo tradition. Maslanka said, “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 Alexis Mitchell and Neilson Chen give a powerful performance of the first movement of this work.

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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 Benjamin Yingst and Christina Eide give a beautiful rendition of the first movement of this piece.

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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