- 24 BIT HDCD RECORDING - Exciting music for winds, brass, percussion, pipe organ!
David Maslanka lives in western Montana and has devoted his life entirely to composing. He is responsible for nearly 30 works for wind ensemble - more likely to get performed than works for symphony orchestra. His latest symphony is his seventh. Strong melody is an important part of his style, and he has a particularly strong attraction to Bach chorales. The Child's Garden is not exactly music for children; it has some very loud and forceful sections. Its inspiration is actually the writings of Carl Jung - specifically the troubling and symbolic dreams of an eight-year-old girl. In Memoriam puts a Bach chorale thru many different variations. Maslanka's Fourth Symphony uses a very large band - including piano, organ and an expanded percussion department - and his skilled writing makes the listener forget there are no strings at all involved in the mix. He sought to depict the rugged open spaces of western Montana and central Idaho. Two Bach chorales are used, but the main thematic element tying the symphony together is the Doxology -"Praise God from Whom all Blessings Flow." He selected it both for its major role in Christian heritage as well as its historical use during the funeral journey across the country of Abraham Lincoln's body. The familiar theme is transformed into many guises, including a fanfare, lyrical sections, a humoresque and even jazzy passage. The half-hour work is in one continuous movement and the final portion is a powerful peroration of brass and percussion that is overpowering in effect. Keith O. Johnson's engineering is equal to the task, and I found this standard disc just about as transparent, wide range and hi-res as most stereo SACDs. It's good to have Reference Recordings back in earnest and making such a strong statement with this release for both accessible new music and the finest audiophile engineering! - John Sunier --------------------------- The first selection on this release takes its title from a case reported by Carl Jung. It is from a series of dreams reported by an eight-year-old girl to her parents. Maslanka chose five of the twelve reported dreams. Each of the composition's five movements is titled for one of the girl's dreams. I found much to enjoy in the quieter or more reflective dreams. The others, while descriptive of their respective titles, were not as appealing to me personally. It must be remembered that the music does not tie the dreams together; each is separate unto itself. The recorded sound quality is quite excellent here and in the following selections. In Memoriam opens with an edgy fanfare but eventually partly envelops a Bach Chorale with variations. Ultimately, the chorale is ominously and powerfully presented by the low brass and bass drum well enough to gladden many an audiophile's heart. The Symphony No. 4 fares quite well as all five movements pretty much flow and tie together as is expected of most symphonies. Strong melodies including two Bach chorales and hymn- like tunes are very sufficient here to sustain traditional classical music lovers. There are no strings playing here and all the wind band's instruments are very clearly heard with their inherent beauty and cutting power intact. The huge percussion and wind forces (totaling approximately 60 performers) with added piano and organ create a true tour-de-force with this contemporary composition. To sooth music lovers and audiophiles, all is captured in great detail often with visceral power. This is a unique project in many ways for Reference Recordings by Karl Lozier ---------------------------------