8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 19 March 2009
A generously filled disc of some genuinely interesting 20th century symphonic works. Panufnik's sound world is intriguing: caustic brass writing and haunting in the Sacra, more jolly bucolic humour in Rustica (the Sinfonia Concertante is less immediately appealing though). If you are interested in exploring the lesser-known, however, you need have no hesitation here. It has the authoritative stamp of the composer at the helm, is well recorded and expertly played (particularly the Menuhin Festival Orchestra in Sinfonia Sacra).
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 2 May 2006
The Polish-born Panufnik (1914-1991) arrived in the UK during the fifties and made it his home. His cycle of ten symphonies is a valuable addition to the 20th century repertoire, and the third, the Sinfonia Sacra, which won the Prince Rainier prize, is one of the hidden treasures of the genre (although not completely unknown; there have been three other recordings and a Proms performance in 2003). This CD unites a reissue of the recording made as part of the prize with another two symphonies, his first, a spicy, earthy piece where the orchestra is split into antiphonal groups, and his fourth, more contemplative, with important solo parts for flute and harp. The Sinfonia Sacra is the cracker of the disc, however, from its arresting opening with fanfares for four trumpets spaced around the orchestra, through an ethereal static contemplation for strings, a demonic fast movement to its last movement, an unfolding of the earliest Polish national hymn which reaches its climax with a thrilling reprise of the four trumpets' first movement fanfares ringing out over everything else; a real spine-tingling moment. These recordings date from 1966 and 1975 and whilst great for their age, are not quite top drawer, hence the four stars; but the works themselves and their performances with composer as conductor are of particular value and well worth exploring, particularly at this price. A big thanks to EMI for this reissue.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
These performances have the benefit of performance with the composer himself conducting. Sinfonia Rustica (no 1) and Sinfonia Sacra (no 3) were recorded in the mid 1960s and the sound quality is showing its age. Even so the performances are spirited. These early symphonies express more overt Polish nationalism than his later works but show his skills in the tight organisation of material. Rustica uses folk like material throughout but this is harmonically stretched - possibly as far as he could go under the Polish communist regime.
Sinfonia Sacra is a stirring piece and his most famous - celebrating Polish nationhood and Catholic faith. There are better recordings both for standard of playing and recording but this one has more urgency and spirit than the more calculated later readings.
Sinfonia Concertante (Symphony no 4) shows a development in his style towards a more expansive tonality but this is very refined, balanced and ordered music. The combination of solo instruments is exquisitely coloured. Recorded later, the sound quality is much improved.
Although there are reservations about the sound quality in the earlier pieces this stands as an excellent survey of his earlier symphonies so comes warmly recommended.