"Andrzej Panufnik is best known for his orchestral works (see the substantial cycle recorded over several years by Lukasz Borowicz with CPO). He was a friend of Lutosławski, his senior by one year, with whom he gave underground concerts during the Nazi occupation of Poland. Panufnik then emigrated to London, leading a double career as a composer and conductor.
His catalogue for piano consists of three pieces. The Twelve Miniature Studies of 1947 (revised between 1955 and 1964) are arranged symmetrically, alternating in tempo and dynamic. A playful volatility (No. 3), asceticism (No. 4), a flawlessly communicative serenity (No. 10), a derisive violence as the treble unravels, the bass forming a flamboyant melody (No. 5), fantastic acceleration (No. 12): full of revelations, a worthy addition to the virtuoso's repertoire.
At the other end of Panufnik's creative life stands the Pentasonata (1984), less immediately accessible. With a palindromic structure, the composer tried to "find a balance between heart and mind, intellect and emotion". The piece ends as it began, animated with a lively impatience, which cuts through the inscrutability of its central section. The sense of contrast also enlivens the austere Reflections of 1968, premiered by John Ogdon, in which dissonant and explosive harmonies give way to a somewhat disembodied atmosphere.
Apart from two pieces by Roxanna Panufnik, which flow naturally from those of her father (as in the meditative introduction to Second Home), the disc also presents some arrangements. The attractive triptych titled Hommage à Chopin successively reveals glimmers of ambiguous sentiments, a puppet with broken joints, akin to a fantastical Petrouchka, then a landscape which one could call medieval, portrayed through the use of rich chords. With Prayer (Modlitwa), Panufnik concludes his pursuit of an almost religious simplicity and purity.
Clare Hammond, undeniably at home with this repertoire, excels at imbuing each piece with atmosphere."