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Panufnik: Harmony - Orchestral Works / Borowicz, Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra

Borowicz, Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Release Date: 04/27/2010 
Label:  Cpo   Catalog #: 777497-2   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Andrzej Panufnik
Conductor:  Lukasz Borowicz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Low Stock: Currently 3 or fewer in stock. Usually ships in 24 hours, unless stock becomes depleted.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews



PANUFNIK Tragic Overture. Nocturne . Heroic Overture. Katy? Epitaph. A Procession for Peace. Harmony ?ukasz Borowicz, cond; Polish RSO CPO 777 497 (61:16)


The six short works on this program span half a century, from 1939 to 1989. All have for their theme some aspect of either war or peace.


There is something tough and uncompromising about Panufnik’s music that reminds me of Ives or Ruggles, not that Panufnik Read more sounds anything remotely like either. The Tragic Overture makes a strong impression both for its taut construction out of a mere scrap of an idea, a four-note motif that runs through the seven-minute work much as another four-note motif serves as the pervasive sound material for the first movement of Beethoven’s Fifth, which also happens to be of about seven minutes’ duration. Panufnik relates in the booklet notes that it “was composed in Warsaw in 1941 under the influence of the fear and horror of our daily life and my agonizing sense of worse things to come.” The music rises to an almost unbearable level of manic ferocity, leaving the listener feeling that he or she has been sucked into a raging vortex of sound. The effect is made all the more vivid by contrast with the eerie quiet of the next work. In the Nocturne, composed shortly after the end of World War II, Panufnik tells us that “I completely detached myself from the tragic memories of the past years. I was escaping reality, weaving for myself a kind of night vision, as in a dream.” The overall emotional curve of the 17-minute Nocturne rises inexorably from misty, otherworldly realms to an all-consuming, “orgiastic climax” (Panufnik’s terms) and from there a retreat to the vaporous opening. Again, as with the Tragic Overture , the effect is powerful, almost visceral.


The Heroic Overture does indeed live up to its name. The most direct and extroverted of the pieces on this disc, it might almost, allowing for some dissonant passages, have served as the accompaniment to the opening credits for a John Wayne Western. It even joins other “heroic” works by virtue of its “heroic” key of E?-Major: the Eroica Symphony, the Emperor Concerto, Ein Heldenleben, and the Sibelius Fifth.


Katy? Epitaph is spiritually related to Penderecki’s Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima and even more closely, geographically speaking, to Shostakovich’s Babi Yar Symphony. In 1943, the Nazis executed some 15,000 defenseless Polish prisoners of war in Katy? Forest, Russia on the brink of a mass grave the victims had been ordered to dig themselves. Panufnik’s epitaph to this massacre is all the more moving for its air of understatement and restraint—almost as if the enormity of the crime were inexpressible in either word or sound.


A Procession for Peace brings to mind some of Hovhaness’s works in its chorale-like writing and stately calm. Harmony is both the most recent work (1989) on this disc and the least successful—a seemingly directionless ramble.


The recorded sound is bright and exceptionally vivid, emphasizing the extreme contrasts of dynamics without forcing the listener to reach for the volume control. The Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra is in fine hands with ?ukasz Borowicz, turning in crisp, intense performances of every work. Adding further luster to this effort are the annotations, which effectively interweave Christoph Schlüren’s biographical material with Panufnik’s comments on the music.


FANFARE: Robert Markow
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Works on This Recording

1.
Tragic Overture by Andrzej Panufnik
Conductor:  Lukasz Borowicz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1942/1955; Poland 
2.
Nocturne by Andrzej Panufnik
Conductor:  Lukasz Borowicz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1947; Poland 
3.
Heroic Overture by Andrzej Panufnik
Conductor:  Lukasz Borowicz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1939-1952; Poland 
4.
Katyn Epitaph by Andrzej Panufnik
Conductor:  Lukasz Borowicz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1967; England 
5.
A Procession for Peace by Andrzej Panufnik
Conductor:  Lukasz Borowicz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
6.
Harmony by Andrzej Panufnik
Conductor:  Lukasz Borowicz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1989; England 

Sound Samples

Uwertura tragiczna (Tragic Overture)
Nocturne
Uwertura bohaterska (Heroic Overture)
Katyn Epitaph
A Procession for Peace
Harmony

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