Quartet No.1

Composer: Andrzej Panufnik (b. 1914 - d. 1991)
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Composer: Andrzej Panufnik (b. 1914 - d. 1991)

Performance date: 30/06/2018

Venue: Bantry Library

Composition Year: 1976

Duration: 00:20:24

Recording Engineer: Tom Norton, RTÉ

Instrumentation: 2vn, va, vc

Instrumentation Category:String Quartet

Artists: Apollon Musagète Quartet (Paweł Zalejski, Bartosz Zachłod [violins], Piotr Szumieł [viola], Piotr Skweres [cello]) - [quartet]

Apollon Musagète Quartet

Pawel Zalejski, Bartosz Zachtod [violins]

Piotr Szumiet [viola]

Piotr Skzeres [cello]

Andrzej Panufnik [1914-1991]

Quartet No.1 [1976, revised 1977]

1. Prelude, Senza misura – very freely

2. Transformations – extremely slow, especially at the beginning

3. Postlude – very fast

Andrzej Panufnik, like Mieczyslaw Weinberg, was born in Warsaw. Like Gra?yna Bacewicz, who was five years older than him, he spent several years in Paris before returning to Warsaw to mind his parents ahead of the Nazi invasion. During the war years he and Lutoslawski played four hands music in cafés and organised illicit concerts. Most of his relatives died during the War and he lost every note of music he had composed. He became a key figure in the post-war revival of Polish music until his dramatic defection to England to escape the Soviet’s cultural straightjacket. 

His First Quartet is dominated by his favourite number three. The three movements – Prelude, Transformations, Postlude – are all tightly constructed upon a single triad. In the Prelude the four instruments introduce themselves, each with its own characteristic expression, dynamics and timbre, the whole sounding like a wordless conversation, each instrument making its own statements about the main theme, which will appear in the next movement. These light, flowing, single voices then give way to the full ensemble in Transformations, which begins very softly and very beautifully from far away. The original triad theme undergoes a wonderful transformation. 

Roxanna Panufnik quotes her father as describing them evolving like a piece of sculpture lit consecutively with five different colours, which also cast different depths of shadow. At the beginning the image is still somewhat out of focus but, as the music advances, the delineation becomes clearer, so that, at the end, the image emerges with full clarity, warmth and strength. The effect is magnificent as the movement builds slowly to a powerful climax.

The Postlude follows without a break in a flurry of pizzicati – taking up the conversation from the first movement, but this time each instrument loses its individuality. The music builds up from a whisper to an animated discussion but ends in happy and affirmative unison.

With thanks to Roxanna Panufnik