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Dip Your Ears, No. 243 (Like Father [Un]Like Daughter: A Panufnik Twosome)

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Andrzej & Roxanna Panufnik
Songs and Trios by Andrzej & Roxanna Panufnik
Heather Shipp (mezzo)
Subito Piano Trio
(Signum UK)

Andrzej Panufnik lived through a spectacular Cold-War escape story—from Poland via Switzerland to arrive in England. There he managed—nearly as impressive and courageous—to escape the musical constraints of the Western avant-garde. The price was freedom but relative obscurity, dotted only by occasional successes. His symphonic music is given much-deserved attention on the CPO label; here Signum features his chamber works and songs… coupled with those of his daughter.

Understandably, from a psychological if not musical point of view, composing composer-daughter Roxanna Panufnik wanted to get as far away from her father’s distinct late 20th-century romantic tone. As she points out in her fine liner notes to this release: she didn’t succeed. The spirits of beauty sneak into her songs at many corners, despite some (self-)conscious attempts not to let them in. The program reflects a Viennese recital that first brought father and daughter together and opens with father Panufnuk’s love song “My True-Love Hath my Heart” of heart-rending, mode-insinuating tribute to his wife. More Elizabethan poetry follows from Roxanna, culminating in her tribute to her later father, the black-and-sweet, bitter-and-tender “Virtue”.

The fine mezzo Heather Shipp, proudly steely-yet-sensitive, cedes duty on the song that gives its name to the release: Andrzej pitch-bending “Dreamscape” which is here recorded in the transcribed vocalize-version for cello and piano which daughter and mother prefer of the original. Roxanna’s short three-movement-within-one Piano Trio Around Three Corners vacillates between conventional upbeat loveliness and defiance thereof; at one point there’s reason to suspect that one of those cappuccino-milk whirly things is being taken to the piano strings.

The Piano Trio op.1 of Andrezej’s to close out the disc is a worthy highlight—the most substantial work on disc and also the most easily appreciated: Tenacious and challenging romantic lines from 1934, tightly interwoven and beautifully executed by the Subito Piano Trio. A fine release that grew on me considerably, but undoubtedly too conventional for the self-proclaimed avantgardists and too modern for those who lazily draw the line at late Schumann.

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