[Disclaimer: There are many very good reviewers at Amazon who are classically trained and essentially subject matter experts. Me, I'm a layman who's been listening for a few decades and has picked up some understanding along the way. Please take my reviews in that context]
Three interesting symphonies on this disk. I agree with the earlier commentor that the earlier works are Panufnik's most direct and heartfelt, before he went all "music theorist" in the later symphonies... and nos. 2 and 3 here seem more fresh and direct than does 10. Panufnik wrote in neo-romantic style, yes in the 1950s,...I don't know how he accomplished that,..although I guess Piston and Schuman (the guy with the one "n", not the two "n's") also somehow kept the modern classical police at bay. For listeners who like their newer classical music more lyrical than discordant, this might be a composer for you.
Let me just talk about one of the symphonies on the disk:
Symphony #3, titled "Sinfonia Sacra", is composition about war and peace, or the prayer for war and the prayer for peace. Turns out they are one and the same. The ancient hymn in question, the Bogurodzica, is apparently an informal Polish national anthem. It was the first hymn ever to have been sung in the Polish language. Throughout the ages, it had been used in both religious functions and on the battlefield as plea for victory and glory. Talk about a song for all occasions...!!!
At the same time Panufnik was still deeply affected by World War II, in which Poland suffered greatly (the symphony was written in the 1950s). The composer therefore used the hymn which depicted its wildly different uses. Abstractly this idea fit with Poland's deep Catholic identity, the war horrors of WWII, and the people's weary longing for peace. Panufnik said he had written the symphony as two movements. The first is a set of 3 "Visions": the first being a war-like fanfare, followed by Vision 2, a "mystic and contemplative movement, and ended with Vision 3: the interweaving conflict of the two. The second movement is "The Hymn", a "very simple prayer to the Virgin, which would express adoration and warmth".
The symphony works quite well, and Panufnik makes his abstract point.
This disk is part of a series on CPO of all of Panufnik's symphonies and orchestral works. Recommended