Recitation Book

Recitation Book2019-11-05T01:29:28+00:00

Project Description

Saxophone Quartet
2006
20 min.

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Listen Now

The Masato Kumoi Saxophone Quartet
On the album Recitation Book (2007)

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Preview Score

Movements

  1. Broken Heart: Meditation on the chorale melody Der du bist drei in einigkeit (You who are three in one)
  2. Prelude/Chorale: Meditation on the chorale melody Jesu meine Freude (Jesus my joy)
  3. Ecco, morirò dunque (Look! My Death is Near!) – Carlo Gesualdo (1596)
  4. Meditation on the Gregorian Chant O Salutaris Hostia (O Salvation’s Victim)
  5. Fanfare/Variations on the chorale melody Durch Adams Fall (Through Adam’s fall)
     

Commissioned by

The Masato Kumoi Saxophone Quartet of Tokyo

Errata

Bar 123 in the Alto Saxophone part should be read as bass clef (G3, B3, C#4, E#4, A#4); bar 124 should be read normally in treble clef.

Description

A recitation book is a collection of writings, often of a sacred nature, used for readings by a community. The music of this piece draws on old sources for each movement – Bach Chorales, a Gesualdo madrigal, Gregorian Chant. A number of old variation techniques are employed throughout the piece. Recitation Book was composed for, premiered, and first recorded by, the Masato Kumoi Saxophone Quartet of Tokyo.

Program Note

I have loved Italian madrigals since my student days. Recitation Book for saxophone quartet feels something like a madrigal collection, but with a grand finale. My approach to composing is vocal, and the singing quality of saxophones is one of their fine strengths. The movements in this piece are relatively brief and intimate songs.

Much of my recent music draws its inspiration from the distant past. An old melody pushes open a door in my mind and a parallel world or dream makes its way out. Each piece in this set found its inspiration in that way.

The title, “Recitation Book,” implies a set of lessons. I don’t want to say explicitly what each “lesson” means, but the titles of the pieces circle around the theme of death, which for me implies the passing of the old, and the coming of the new.

I have not only quoted a number of old melodies in Recitation Book, but two whole brief pieces as well. This first is J.S. Bach’s four-part chorale Jesu, meine Freude, and the second is an arrangement for the four saxophones of the five-voiced madrigal Ecco, morirò dunque by Gesualdo di Venosa.

My acquaintance with the Masato Kumoi Saxophone Quartet began several years ago when I received a CD in the mail. When recordings come unbidden I am generally prepared for something less than I want to hear. But this rendition of Mountain Roads (my first composition for saxophone quartet) was the finest performance of the piece that I had ever heard. Since then the Kumoi Quartet has performed the piece many times, and they have promoted it widely among players in Japan. In 2004, Masato Kumoi commissioned me to write another quartet especially for his group.

In May of 2005, Masato Kumoi recorded a solo alto CD (Simple Songs, Cafua Records), and included my Sonata for Alto Saxophone and Piano. This is a wonderful performance, and I am deeply indebted to him for his brilliant play, and the depth of his musical insight. I look forward to many more years of our collaboration.

Program note by David Maslanka.

Further Reading

Maslanka Weekly: Best of the Web – No. 71, Slow Movements

29 October 2019|0 Comments

Maslanka Weekly highlights excellent performances of David Maslanka’s music from around the web. This week, we feature three of David’s compositions (of which there are literally dozens to choose from) that highlight some of his most beautiful writing in slower tempi: "Movement I" from Recitation Book, "Slow" from Symphony No. 7, and "Slow" from Sonata for Alto Saxophone and Piano.

Maslanka Weekly: Best of the Web – No. 56, New Performances of Saxophone Quartet Music

15 July 2019|0 Comments

Maslanka Weekly highlights excellent performances of David Maslanka’s music from around the web. This week, we feature three new performances of saxophone quartet music: "Fanfare/Variations on Durch Adams Fall” from Recitation Book, "Inwardly" and "Dramatic" from Concerto for Saxophone Quartet and Wind Ensemble, and "The soul is here for its own joy" from Songs for the Coming Day.

Maslanka Weekly: Best of the Web – No. 39, Dreams & Meditations

18 March 2019|0 Comments

Maslanka Weekly highlights excellent performances of David Maslanka’s music from around the web. This week, we feature three compositions that specifically mention "dreaming" or "meditation" in their title: A Child's Garden of Dreams, Movement I, Sea Dreams: Concerto for Two Horns and Wind Ensemble, Movement III, and Recitation Book, Movement I, "Broken Heart: Meditation on the chorale melody Der du bist drei in einigkeit."