Reflections for piano solo, 1968, 12'
Performer: Raymond Clarke - piano; 2002 The Divine Art
Reflections is the first work in which Panufnik made use of the possibilities offered by the E-F-B cell, which subsequently became the structural basis of most of his compositions.
The title draws on the twofold meaning of the word ‘reflections’. On the one hand, it is about ‘reflections’ expressed in the contemplative nature of the piece, on the other – ‘reflections’ closely linked to the musical material, in which the leading role is played by a triad constantly reflected and transposed, both in the melodic and the harmonic dimension of the composition.
We can distinguish in Panufnik’s Reflections five contrasted sections, or microstructures, as the composer called them. The first, calm, is based on horizontally evolving notes of the basic cell making up a gentle melody. It is accompanied by delicate chords, also consisting of the E-F-B cell intervals. The second microstructure is a linear progression of two melodic lines based on inversions of the same triad. The structure of the third microstructure is vertical; its content is made up of chords in various piano registers with symmetrically arranged pauses between them. The fourth microstructure is based on a free and constant succession of cells embracing almost the whole compass of the keyboard; the fifth and last consists in – as the composer put it – ‘agitated questioning’ in the form of vertical chords followed by ‘tranquil answers’ in the form of contemplative melodic lines. They lead to a delicate conclusion in a barely audible quadruple piano (pppp).
The whole composition is notated without the bar-line and marked improvisando, which stresses its nature of improvised musical reflections for piano.
Reflections was performed for the first time on 21 April 1972 at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall by John Ogdon.