DAVID MASLANKA (b.1943): Illumination, Hymn for World Peace, Requiem, Golden Light, Concerto for Euphonium and Wind Ensemble “UFO Dreams”.
Catalogue Number: 10T073
Label: Mark Records
Description: This is as good a sample of shorter pieces demonstrating why Maslanka occupies such a leading - arguably pre-eminent - position among wind orchestra composers of today as we are likely to get. Two exciting, uplifting and energetic pieces, nonetheless very different from one another, frame the program. Illumination is a boisterously good-humoured concert overture, with suggestions of hymn and folk tunes mixed in along the way, while Golden Light, inspired by the play of sunlight through trees, is a joyous celebration propelled by lively percussion with sections of polyrhythm based on short rhythmic motifs influenced by African drumming. The three movement concerto - the title puns on 'eupho' - i.e. euphonium - and the work explores a kind of popular cosmology of origins and destinations. The outer movements are variations, the first on the English folk song “The Water is Wide”, the finale on a Bach chorale. The middle movement 'Home Planet - who are you? - where do you come from' is "a dream of distant origins" in the composer's words. The powerful Hymn puts Maslanka's familiar gestures - undulating arpeggiated accompaniments, soaring chorales, technicolor 'battle music' swept away by the triumphant hymn (which bears a distinct resemblance to Finlandia) - at the service of a characteristically uplifting message. The heart of the program is the Requiem, which belies its relatively brief duration in its profound emotional impact. Beginning with figuration borrowed from Beethoven's 'Moonlight Sonata' (which Ronald Stevenson made a convincing case for as 'a meditation on death') the first section is a solemn Requiem æternam. Unearthly sounds herald the eruption of a Dies irae from the depths, then the opening material is recapitulated, though now with a sense of consolation; lux perpetua luceat eis, perhaps. Adam Frey (euphonium), Utah Wind Symphony; Scott Hagen.