This year marks the centennial of composer-conductor Sir Andrzej Panufnik (1914-1991), and in his honor, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, led by Riccardo Muti, will perform his Concerto in modo antico during its subscription program of Oct. 2-4.
Lady Camilla Panufnik, the composer’s widow, plans to attend the Symphony Center concerts. An accomplished photographer and author, she has shared images of her late husband (click on the GALLERY tab above). She recalls a warm reception from Chicago’s Polish-American community on two trips that she and her husband made to the city. “I remember they were warmly interested in my husband and his music when we were last in Chicago in 1990 for the premiere of his 10th Symphony, commissioned by Sir Georg Solti for the CSO Centenary,” she wrote in an email. “And before that, also with great pleasure, I remember our visit in 1981 when Sir Georg conducted my husband’s Sinfonia Sacra, a performance which was later issued as a special CD sent to [CSO] patrons.”
In an interview this week, Sounds & Stories contributor Andrew Huckman asked Lady Panufnik if she senses the same commitment when she hears the CSO of 2014 playing her husband’s work:
“Yes! Of course! Deep commitment! Deep commitment by Maestro Muti and by the players. I mean, the string sound is so beautiful — all the sections: the woodwinds absolutely fantastic, the brass completely outstanding, and the trumpet player is to die for. They’re all wonderful. It’s a very, very great orchestra, and it’s a colossal privilege to be able to hear my husband’s music being played by this orchestra.”
Later, the discussion turned to Leopold Stokowski, who championed Panufnik’s work and was a close friend of the composer and his wife. Stokowski of course was the longtime music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra, a post later held by Riccardo Muti.
Lady Panufnik sees parallels in the achievements of the two music directors: “[There’s the] exquisite the sound of the strings. And I mean Stokowski – it was known as the Stokowski sound. Absolutely identifiable, and I would say probably Muti has very much his own sound. Strings today in the rehearsal were absolutely fabulous. All the orchestra’s fabulous. In The Firebird, you heard everything, and it was just wonderful, just the most superb.”
More from Lady Panufnik in an upcoming feature on Sounds & Stories. For additional information about the composer, please visit his site.