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Panufnik’s day deserves to come. He was a fine composer, based in the UK from 1954 and knighted in 1991 (the year of his death). This disc goes some way to atonement. The hauntingly beautiful Hommage à Chopin, originally written in 1949 for wordless soprano and piano, speaks of his attachment to his homeland via Mazovian folk music and a reference to Polish Lenten church music. It is heard here in a beautiful performance scored for flute, string quartet and double-bass.

The imagination over the span of these quartets is remarkable. For the first, a Prelude introduces four ‘characters’; the ensuing Transformations is a study in musical shadows. The second quartet (1976) was inspired by ‘whispers’ heard by the composer as a boy putting his head against a telegraph pole. The slow, gradual build of the piece is honoured here. The third quartet (1990), subtitled ‘Wycinanki’ after the polish paper-cut technique and mirroring this in symmetrical structures, offers intense, searing music.

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica


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