The past few Roxanna Panufnik releases from Signum Classics have focused on her choral works. And with good reason — Panufnik is one of the premier choral composers of the 21st Century. This new release presents a collection of her chamber music. And (no surprise), her talent extends into this genre as well.
Members of the Sacconi Quartet, both as the ensemble and individually, perform on most of these works. The title track, “Heartfelt” was commissioned by the Sacconi Quartet.
The two movements are inspired by the heart. The second movement “Lament for a Bulgarian Dancing Bear” is built around a bear’s heartbeat. (Said bear, Albie, is pictured on the cover.)
Panufnik’s style is cosmopolitan in its influences, drawing from both Western and Eastern musical traditions. That wide-ranging interest is readily apparent in this collection.
“Private Joe” is a setting of letters home from a World War I doughboy killed in action. The music, for baritone and string quartet, quotes British music hall music. Panufnik mixes it with beautiful yet sobering original material.
“Second Home” for soprano and piano quintet references Panufnik’s heritage through her father. It’s a set of very sophisticated variations on a rural Polish folk song.
“Hora Bessarabia” for violin and double bass was inspired by Romanian and Hungarian gypsy music. “Cantator and Amanda,” for bassoon and string quartet is based on a 14th Century legend. Panufnik uses madrigals of the period as the starting point.
While the influences are many, the results are consistent. Panufnik refines her source material into something beautiful, and something that’s uniquely her own.
If you only know (and love) her choral music, “Heartfelt” is a must-have release.
Roxanna Panufnik: Heartfelt
Mary Bevan, soprano; Amy Harman, bassoon; Nicholas Daniel, oboe; Andy Marshall, double bass; Charles Owen, piano; Roderick Williams, baritone