Wednesday 11 June 2014

Reflections - solo piano music of Andrzej and Roxanna Panufnik

Reflections - Andrzej and Roxanna Panufnik - Clare Hammond - BIS
Reflections - Solo piano works by Andrzej and Roxanna Panufnik; Clare Hammond; BIS
Reviewed by Robert Hugill on Jun 10 2014
Star rating: 4.0

Andrzej Panufnik's three major works for piano plus music by his daughter

This year's centenary of the birth of Andrzej Panufnik has started to throw up some interesting disc of his music. For BIS Records, pianist Clare Hammond has recorded Panufnik's three major works for solo piano, Twelve Miniature Studies, Pentasonata and Reflections along with his daughter Roxanna Panufnik's arrangement of Andrzej Panufnik's Hommage a Chopin, Roxanna's completion of her father's Modlitwa and Roxanna's own Second Home and Glo. The results providing a satisfying compendium of Panufnik on piano.

Andrzej Panufnik's Twelve Miniature Studies were written in 1947 after Panufnik had had a five year break from serious creative work. Each of the twelve studies is based on the same melodic line, but constrasting with its predecessor in dynamic and tempo. So that the work opens with Sempre fortissimo e moto veloce, followed by Sempre pianissimo e molto legato. Additionally each study is a step further along the circle of fifths, so the the first one is in C sharp, the second in F sharp, the third in B, and so on until the final one is in G sharp. The faster movements are all brilliant runs, vigorous toccatas and nervous energy, whilst the softer ones are spare and more lyric. The result is a fascinating series of tiny character studies.

Written in 1949, Andrzej Panufnik's Hommage a Chopin was originally five vocalises for soprano and piano, with the material coming from folk-music from Mazowia, the central region of Poland where Chopin was born. Roxanna Panufnik has arranged three, nos. 1, 4 and 5 for piano solo. They are short pieces and, like the Twelve Miniature Studies, have the feeling of character studies; the first slow, steady and passacaglia-like, the second perky and sprightly with slower lyric moments, and the third gentle and lyric.

Andrzej Panufnik's Pentasonata was written in 1984, the year he was 70. It is based on the number five, there are five sections arranged palindromically, the material is based on the pentatonic scale, the outer sections are in quintuple time (one in 5/8 the other in 5/4). That said, the work flows naturally and emotionally with any feeling of contrivance that this design might imply. A dramatic, fast and rather expressionist opening leads to a quietly expressive section where Panufnik combines lyricism with a dissonant element in a typical way. The central section is full of dramatic rhetoric, almost like a dialogue, supported by astringent harmony. Sparer textures develop in intensity before something like the opening material returns.

Modlitwa was a setting by Andrzej Panufnik of a prayer by Jerzy Pietrikiewicz, but Andrzej Panufnik set only one verse leaving the second to be narrated. Roxanna has written a setting of the second verse and created a piano solo version of the work. The resulting combined effort it magically haunting with both father and daughter clearly fascinated by the combination of major and minor modes.

Roxanna Panufnik's Second Home was written in 2003 and is a series of variations on a Polish folk-theme, expressing Roxanna's feelings about her father's homeland. The theme starts simple and evocatively, and the variations explore the theme in a variety of textures and complexities before the simplicity of the opening returns.  Roxanna Panufnik's Glo was written in memory of a family friend who died. It is a tiny, austere and spare textured piece.

Andrzej Panufnik's Reflections, was his second piano piece written in 1968 within days of the birth of his daughter Roxanna. As the title suggests, the piece is based around Andrzej Panufnik's fascination for mirror forms and geometric patterns; Spare and austere textures, astringent harmonies and a lovely clarity of thought and texture.

The performances from pianist Clare Hammond are all exemplary, and she shows profound sympathy with both Andrzej Panufnik and Roxanna Panufnik's sound worlds. Hammond brings exemplary clarity and lyricism to the music, without neglecting the moments of drama. Hammond's own programme note introduces both composers and their work. A gem of a disc.

Andrzey Panufnik (1914 - 1991) - Twelve Miniature Studies (1947/1955/1964) [20.08]
Andrzey Panufnik (1914 - 1991), arr. Roxana Panufnik - Hommage a Chopin (1949/55, arr. 2013) [9.30]
Andrzey Panufnik (1914 - 1991) - Pentasonata (1984) [12.57]
Andrzey Panufnik (1914 - 1991), Roxana Panufnik (born 1968) - Modlitwa (1990/99, arr. 2013) [5.30]
Roxana Panufnik (born 1968) - Second Home (2003/2006) [9.26]
Roxana Panufnik (born 1968) - Glo (2002) [1.35]
Andrzey Panufnik (1914 - 1991) - Reflections (1968) [11.00]
Clare Hammond (piano)
Recorded September 2013 at Potton Hall, Suffolk, England
BIS BIS-2003 1CD [71.29]

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