On Tuesday, Nov. 18 American Contemporary Music Ensemble performed a centennial tribute to Polish composer Andrzej Panufnik (1914-1991) at (Le) Poisson Rouge. The concert combined works for quartet and sextet by Panufnik with pieces by Aleksander Lasoń (b. 1951).
Following last year's Witold Lutosławski centennary, the Panufnik estate has been organizing 100th birthday celebrations in several major cities including New York. The now-revered figure in 20th-century Polish music once incited ire and blacklisting at the hands of the Communist Polish authorities when he fled to the United Kingdom in 1954. After being performed and well-received in his adopted homeland, Panufnik's music began to find its way back home to Polish concert halls in the late 1970s, and in 1990 he finally returned to his native Poland with the collapse of Communism.
The poet and musicologist Tadeusz Kaczynski writes of Panufnik: "He was the forbidden fruit, the artificially severed branch of our culture." The National Audiovisual Institute in Warsaw has recently unveiled an all-encompassing Panufnik website which includes the largest on-demand streaming library of his music as well as video tributes and playlists from his former wife, Camilla Panufnik, and their daughter, composer Roxanna Panufnik.
This program features Panufnik's String Quartet No. 4 and the string sextet Song to the Virgin Mary, alongside works by Aleksander Lasoń – a composer originally active as an improvising pianist but who gained increasing recognition for the depth, vitality and clarity of his music.
Lasoń: String Quartet No. 4
Lasoń: Deciso e affetuoso for cello
Panufnik: String Quartet No. 2
Panufnik: Song to the Virgin Mary, for string sextet