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Messages: Chamber Works for Strings by Andrzej and Roxanna Panufnik / Brodsky String Quartet, Robert Smissen, viola; Richard May, cello

Notes & Reviews:

Gramophone Magazine, January 2015
The meat of the programme is the set of three string quartets written by the elder Panufnik, superbly performed here by the Brodsky. I think that the second movement of Quartet No. 1, 'Transformations', is one of the finest things the composer ever wrote, and the performance here does it full justice, balancing to perfection its combination of fragility and extreme tension.

2014 marks the centenary of Polish-British composer Andrzej Panufnik. Here the Brodsky Quartet joins in this year of reminiscence and celebration with Messages, a recording of works both by Andrzej and his daughter Roxanna Panufnik.

American Record Guide, March/April 2015
This release, subtitled Messages, alternates chamber works for strings by Andrzej Panufnik and his daughter Roxanna. It opens with Modlitwa (Prayer), an arrangement for string sextet of the first stanza of a song set by Andrzej in 1990 on a poem by a Polish poetfriend. It's poignant and lovely. Sir Andrzej's Quartet 1 (1976, rev. 1977) is in three movements. The second section unfolds passionate lyricism over cosmic harmony, with a contrapuntal scherzo-finale combining the characters. Roxanna offers commentary on the first two quartets in her two Memories of My Father (2013). The first of them ('O Tu, Andrzej') develops the motives of the first quartet, with echoes of Gesualdo's 'O Vos Omnes'. Dad's Quartet 2 (1980), subtitled Messages, is an extended fantasy on counterpoint between a four-note motive and a triad. Atmosphere is intense and mournful. Papa's Quartet 3 (1990) (Wycinanki, referring to his beloved paper cuts) was written for a British quartet competition. The piece is meant to demonstrate characteristics of string ensemble technique: sustained drone bowing, rhythmic freedom, pizzicato, prestissimo virtuosity, and a final end-of-life adagio. This was one of the terminally ill composer's last pieces. Finally, Song to the Virgin Mary (1964) is Andrzej's arrangement of his early cappella choral work of the same name for string sextet. It is based on a pentatonic reference to Polish folk music: soaring, and in this context heartbreaking.


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