ANDRZEJ PANUFNIK (1914-1991): String Quartets No. 1, No. 2 "Messages" and No. 3 "Wycinanki", WITOLD LUTOSLAWSKI (1913-1994): String Quartet.
Catalogue Number: 08Q060
Description: Panufnik's first quartet (1976) consists of a brief prelude and postlude in which the instruments play each in their own measure like four different characters. The main body of the work, though, is chordal, played by the entire ensemble in a slow, steady pulse, in five sections based on transformations of the triad that formed the basis of the argumentative opening and closing movements. The Second of 1980 takes its inspiration from a childhood memory of the composer's, of listening intently to the resonances from telegraph wires, and in his imagination finding musical meaning in them. The work begins and ends with ghostly 'aeolian harp' harmonics, while the main part of the piece consists of sections in contrasting moods, based on combinations of two brief motivic cells. Even in the pared down medium of the quartet, familiar gestures are apparent; passages of utter stillness, exhilaratingly propulsive music, suggestions of folk dances and melodic contour. Another kind of folk influence is present in the five miniatures that make up the Third (1990); the intricate, symmetrical designs of the Polish folk art of paper-cutting (of which the cover illustration is an example). These are a natural fit with Panufnik's beloved palindromes and mirror forms, and the work has a sense of affectionate celebration, ending with one of the composer's characteristic soaring chorales. Lutoslawski's ground-breaking aleatoric quartet, its precisely fashioned components freely interacting like the floating shapes of Calder's mobiles, is an interesting and apt coupling. Tippett Quartet.