DAVID MASLANKA (b.1943): Symphony No. 8, Concerto for Trombone and Wind Ensemble.
Catalogue Number: 10L093
Reference: TROY 1132
Description: Two bold panoramic vistas of the kind we have come to expect of Maslanka, unabashedly tonal and colorfully orchestrated. The concerto is an introspective, somber in memoriam work whose movement titles - 'Requiem', 'Beloved' and 'Be Content, Be Calm' suggest the character of the music. Rippling, repeated gestures form rich accompanimental textures, flowing around granitic blocks of sumptuous chordal material, and the songlike solo lines of trombone and cello (the latter an important concertante part; the middle movement also contains a moving flute solo). In keeping with the work's deeply felt elegiac mood, any form of empty virtuosity is avoided altogether, the soloist's prominence mainly established through sustained and eloquent singing lines. The large ensemble is economically employed, though anguished outbursts and powerful chorales add drama at key points, and a lively, celebratory scherzo interrupts the otherwise gentle slow movement. The symphony, written the following year, is a celebration of life, with explicit religious overtones; Maslanka quotes from his own Mass, the Lutheran chorale Jesu meine Freude, and a well-known hymn tune. This vital stream of music is constantly in motion throughout the three movements, in brighter colors than the concerto, but with a similar emphasis on sustained melody supported by chordal pillars and the composer's trademark not-really-minimalist propulsive repeated gestures. The composer's chorale textures provide islands of reverently sacred calm amidst all the activity. Stephen Parsons (trombone), Illinois State University Wind Ensemble; Stephen K. Steele.