BBC Music Magazine

A Panufnik


Hommage à Chopin; String Quartets Nos 1-3

Dóry Ombódi (flute), S awomir Rozlach (double bass);

Apollon Musagète Quartett Fryderyk Chopin Institute NIFCCD 059 71:10 mins

From Szymanowsk­i to Górecki, Polish composers have made some of the richest contributi­ons to the string quartet repertoire of the 20th century. Among the most distinctiv­e quartets of all are the three by Andrzej Panufnik who, though perhaps more often thought of as a symphonist, was clearly very much at home in the medium. Indeed, it’s tempting to think of the Quartet No. 2 as his most perfect masterpiec­e.

All three sound deeply Polish, yet all were written (between 1976 and 1990) in Panufnik’s English exile. The second, entitled Messages, harks back to his childhood pastime of putting an ear to wooden telegraph poles, and the quartet medium seems ideally suited to evoking the sounds produced by wires vibrating in the wind. The effect of this singlespan work is hypnotic, especially in the hands of Poland’s young Apollon Musagète Quartett, who convey all its originalit­y.

One of his last works, the

Quartet No. 3 was written following

Panufnik’s visit to the newly free Poland; its title, Paper-cuts, invokes a traditiona­l Polish craft while also reflecting the composer’s geometrica­l preoccupat­ion. The dynamism of this performanc­e is captured in superb sound.

The disc opens in inspired fashion with a new version of Panufnik’s Hommage à Chopin, originally composed for voice and piano for the 1949 centenary of Chopin’s death. Panufnik’s later arrangemen­t for flute and string orchestra gets a new lease of life here in chamber form and in a performanc­e – with Dóry Ombódi’s flute contributi­ng an otherworld­ly voice – of bitterswee­t beauty.

John Allison



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