Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Andrzej Panufnik, John Storgårds, Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra|
Panufnik: Heroic Overture; Sinfonia de Sfere; Landscape; Sinfonia Sacra [Hybrid SACD]
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Unexpectedly powerful and unique
Russ | Richmond, VA | 10/13/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Today, Andrezej Panufnik is probably far from a household name. Panufnik (1914-1991) was born Poland, and remained there through World War II, where he composed numerous patriotic songs. However, all of his compositions were destroyed in the Warsaw uprising. Unable to conform to the ideals of Socialist Realism, Panufnik left Poland in 1954, which subsequently led to the banning of Panufnik's works in Poland. Panufnik eventually settled in Britain, but he did make a return trip to Poland in 1990, after the downfall of Communism.
I had previously acquired a Naxos release of Panufnik's works based on early music from Poland and old Polish folk songs (Panufnik: Homage to Polish Music). That release, while terrific, did little to suggest the complex and powerful composer that Panufnik truly was.
Opening the program is the patriotic 'Heroic Overture' dating from 1939 (Panufnik reconstructed this work after the war). Despite its name, this piece is no mere banal assertion of cheer, but rather it is a bold and dissonant work filled with proclamations of defiance. The other orchestral work ('Landscape') dates from 1962, and shows a more complicated, and evolved, compositional style. For me, the texture of this work, dominated by long string drones, evokes a vast, astral expanse where time seems to stand still. Or to state less abstractly - despite the lack of a traditional melody this is still a hauntingly beautiful work.
The Sinfonia de Sfere (1975) is an abstract work, and its form is difficult to ascertain, even after multiple listenings. I find myself a little lost in the soupy inner portions of the symphony - this is a 'difficult' work. But the more I listen to the work, the more it grows on me. And Panufnik does create some chilling textures within the symphony through the incorporation of various pitched drums and a recurring trill-like piano motif. I also especially enjoy the thrilling, angular conclusion the work.
The Sinfonia Sacra (1964) comes from a different mould entirely. The lulling texture of this work bares some similarities to the aforementioned 'Landscape' (ex: Track 11). Even though most listeners will note the absence of any real melody here, the work on a whole is very pretty. However, the work does reach an exhilarating climax, featuring several fanfaring trumpets and horns over noble chord progressions. The symphony's conclusion is one of the most rousing moments in classical music I have encountered.
I suspect this release will play a role in further establishing Panufnik as one of the more interesting twentieth century composers. Everything here is exceptionally done: the playing by the Tampere Philharmonic, the sound engineering and the (very detailed) program notes. The music on this release is complex, sometimes dissonant, and a little loose with form. As such, repeated listenings are advised. But with that said, these pieces contain an underlying beauty and powerful sense of drama that I find to be compelling.
If your musical predilections fall more in the traditional category, I would start by acquiring Naxos' release of Panufnik's works. But those who enjoy distinctive contemporary classical music (along the lines of Pärt or Vasks, perhaps) will probably find this release to be more interesting.
Highly recommended to adventuresome listeners!
Try modern music in stunning sound
J. S. Bower | UK | 09/11/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I came to this disc without any preconceptions or expectations. I heard some Panufnik live at the Festival Hall many years ago, and then forgot all about it. I had never hear an Ondine disc, and - to my shame - I didn't even know where Tampere was, let alone that it had a symphony orchestra.
A few bars into the opening Heroic Overture, however, it became extravagantly clear that this was one exceptional sounding recording. Dynamic, natural, timbrally accurate, exceptionally transparent and - above all - graced by extremely focussed and dimensionally accurate staging. The top registers and transient response of the (ample) percussion are particularly noteworthy. This is probably the first all-digital recording I have yet heard which manages proper cymbals. Most SACDs manifest these as - variously - thin; hollow, gritty (low bit-rates) or rolled off. Analogue actually does better here.
Only later did I learn that this disc was recorded in DXD (32 bit floating point and 352.8kHz, 4X the data throughput of DSD) before down-quantising to a DSD bit-stream. Incidentally, this is nowehere evidenced on the disc or notes. Phew, if this is what a full orchestra sounds like in DXD, I'm just gagging for more...
And the music? Suffice it to say, if you're into 20th century classical, and like composers such as Ligeti, Messiaen or Lutoslawski, then give Panufnik a listen: what have you got to lose?
This disc encompasses a broad spectrum of his work. The very early Heroic Overture and Sinfonia Sacra are most musically satisfying to my ears, whilst the later Sinfonia da Sfere seems rather cerebral and distant by comparison.
The playing is - for the most part - excellent throughout. However, the cruel exposed upper brass writing in the 'Sacra' does cause occasional strain. But I guess it would with most orchestras, so no shame there.
The performances are probably 4 star; however, since the recording is 6 star, I have evened things out...
In conclusion- fine 20th century symphonies, well played and superlatively recorded. Strongly recommended."