Panufnik: Symphonic works, Vol. 3

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WORKS: Symphonic Works Vol. 3: Symphony No. 6 (Sinfonia Mistica); Autumn Music; Hommage à Chopin; Rhapsody
PERFORMER: Lukasz Dlugosz (flute); Polish Radio SO/Lukasz Borowicz

This third volume in ukasz Borowicz’s increasingly significant survey of Andrzej Panufnik’s orchestral music takes its title, Mistica, from the composer’s Sixth Symphony. Written in 1978, the work reflects Panufnik’s penchant for metaphysics and formal systems, and a trademark blend of the structural and spiritual that can be traced back to Poland’s strong Catholic intellectual tradition. Structured in six geometrically inspired movements, the music is given a searing performance by the Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra.
The earliest piece featured here is the Hommage à Chopin, originally written in 1949 (for soprano and piano) to mark the centenary of Chopin’s death, but better known in this 1966 version for flute and strings. Incorporating folk music from Chopin’s native Mazowia, the music is shaped in five symmetrical movements, and the brilliant young flautist ukasz Dugosz supplies warm tone. The work has been recorded several times but as with everything else here, this new recording either equals or surpasses the competition.
The Rhapsody of 1957 was the first new music Panufnik composed after settling in England, but its central part (framed by two haunting outer movements) is a vigorous Polish dance. Premiered in 1968, Autumn Music is again symmetrical, a grief-laden triptych that gives Borowicz scope for a performance of tenderness and bite. John Allison