Saturday 21 June 2014

Dreamscape - songs and trios by Andrzej & Roxanna Panufnik

Dreamscape - Andrzej and Roxanna Panufnik - Signum Records
Songs and Trios by Andrzej and Roxanna Panufnik; Heather Shipp, Subito Piano Trio; Signum Classics
Reviewed by Robert Hugill on Jun 21 2014
Star rating: 3.0

Varied selection of songs and piano trios by father and daughter

This year is Andrzej Panufnik's centenary and this disc from Signum combines his music with that of his daughter, Roxanna. The mezzo-soprano Heather Shipp is joined by the Subito Piano Trio (Lech Napterala, piano, Magdalena Szczepanowska, violin, Piortr Hausenplas, cello) performing Andrzej Panufnik's Love Song, Dreamscape and Piano Trio, Roxanna Panufnik's Mine Eye, Sweet Love Remember'd, That Mighty Heart, Virtue and Around Three Corners, plus their joint composition Moditwa.

Andrzej Panufnik's Love Song from 1977 sets a sonnet by Sir Philip Sidney and was written for Peter and Meriel Dickinson. It is a folk-like piece, starts with the voice keening over a simple piano part before getting thrillingly passionate.

The next pair of songs are by Roxanna Panufnik. Mine Eye from 1999 sets a sonnet by Shakespeare, it is plain and quite austere work, expressively projecting the text well. Sweet Love Remember'd from 2005 sets another Shakespeare sonnet. Again the text is projected with clarity, but it is passionate too. The melodic material has rather an edgy feel, until the poignant final lines.

In 1990 Andrzej Panufnik set a prayer by his friend, the Polish poet Jerzy Pietrkiewicz. In fact Panufnik set just the second verse and had the first verse narrated. Roxanna Panufnik then set the first verse in 1999 creating a composite piece. It is an evocative piece, with the fascinating transition from Panufnik senior to junior and back again.

Another pair of Roxanna's songs follow. The Mighty Heart from 2008 sets Wordsworth. It is a passionate lyrical arioso, the music sounding rather expressionist. Virtue was written in 1992 for a memorial concert to Andrzej Panufnik and was premiered by Heather Shipp. Setting George Herbert, it has a magical piano texture with a poised solo from Shipp.

 Andrzej Panufnik's Dreamscape is played by two members of the Subito Piano Trio, Lech Napterala, piano, and Piortr Hausenplas, cello. The work was originally a vocalise written in 1977, and here performed in a version for cello and piano. It is a haunting piece, with a lovely singing cello and Panufnik's familiar major/minor melancholy. Fragile at first, it develops real intensity.

Roxanna's Around Three Corners for piano trio was written in 1995. It is somewhat palindromic in structure, a set of variations with the main them in the centre though the structure is not as strictly palindromic as one of her father's pieces. The material has a complex and attractive texture, with a similar major/minor tonality to Andrzej Panufnik's work, and a lovely variety to the different sections.

Andrzej Panufnik's Piano Trio Op. 1 was written he was 19 and still a student at the Warsaw State Conservatoire. It was revised in 1944 after being destroyed in the Warsaw Uprising. The opening movement is rather romantic and not a little bluesy, with some lovely instrumental writing. The central Largo has a haunting singing melody over a gentle rocking accompaniment. The Presto finale is lively and rather humorous, and not a little spiky.

The CD booklet includes an illuminating article by Roxanna Panufnik, plus full texts and translations.

This is a fascinating disc which sheds light on the music of Andrzej Panufnik and his daughter. It is clear that the programme has a strong personal connection for Roxanna Panufnik, but I am not certain that it works as well as it could as a satisfying musical programme. All four of Roxanna's songs on the disc are quite steady in terms of tempo and I think the programme would have benefited from a little more variety of tempo and tone. I would also have like to hear a little more of Andrzej Panufnik's songs on the disc.

Heather Shipp gives deeply felt performances, though her vibrato might be rather too pronounced for some people. The Subito Piano Trio give admirable performances and bring the music to life. The disc provides the opportunity to hear some more of Andrzej Panufnik's smaller scale works.

Andrzej Panufnik (1914 - 1991) - Love Song [4.19]
Roxanna Panufnik (born 1968) - Mine Eye [4.04]
Roxanna Panufnik (born 1968) - Sweet Love Remember'd [5.05]
Andrzej & Roxanna Panufnik - Modlitwa [4.32]
Roxanna Panufnik (born 1968) - That Mighty Heart [3.11]
Roxanna Panufnik (born 1968) - Virtue [6.14]
Andrzej Panufnik (1914 - 1991) - Dreamscape [9.21]
Roxanna Panufnik (born 1968) - Around Three Corners [9.43]
Andrzej Panufnik (1914 - 1991) - Piano Trio, Op.1 [17.21]
Heather Ship (mezzo-soprano)
Subito Piano Trio (Lech Napterala, piano, Magdalena Szczepanowska, violin, Piortr Hausenplas, cello)
Recorded 29 August 2013

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