COMPOSERS: A. Panufnik & Lutosławski
ALBUM TITLE: A Panufnik & Lutosławski Quartets
WORKS: A Panufnik String Quartets Nos 1-3 • Lutołsawski String Quartet
PERFORMER: Tippett Quartet
The striking opening of Andrzej Panufnik’s First Quartet – a powerfully attacked unison followed by a series of fragmentary conversations – immediately shows the intensity of this performance and the richness of the recording. Sonority and instrumental colour are as important as melody and harmony: it’s fearsomely exposed writing, and the Tippett Quartet barely puts a foot wrong in the harmonics, glissandi, rustling tremolandos, and gradually emerging passion, before the music subsides back on to the note where it started.
The Second Quartet has a similar trajectory, rising to a passionate series of climaxes, before subsiding back into the attenuated harmonics with which it began. There’s more rhythmic meat in this piece though, and the performance expertly characterises the various guises of the four-note motif that Panufnik uses to achieve coherence. The Third Quartet is the shortest and the most restless of the three, until it reaches a rich, slowly revolving, folk-based conclusion. Even more than in the earlier quartets, the changes of mood and texture need to be absolutely sure, and there’s com-plete commitment in this playing.
As there is in the aleatoric, often unsynchronised lines of Lutosławski’s Quartet. You can really hear the members of the Tippett Quartet listening keenly to each other as they weave their seemingly effortless magic. A much recorded piece, but this is the equal of anything out there. Martin Cotton