Quintetto Accademico (Quintet for Woodwinds) for flute, oboe, two clarinets and bassoon, 1952 (rew. 1956), 7'

Quintet for Woodwinds /excerpt/

Performers: Henryk Bartnikowski - flute, Ludwik Szymański - oboe, Ludwik Kurkiewicz - I clarinet, Józef Foremski - II clarinet, Benedykt Górecki - bassoon; Polish Radio SA

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The last work written by Panufnik before leaving Poland is the short and artistically not very distinguished Quintet for Woodwinds. Composed in 1952, it was performed in Warsaw in 1953 and published by the PWM Edition in 1954. However, after moving to England Panufnik did not include it in the catalogue of his compositions and it was not until after his death that his wife, looking through his papers, came across the manuscript of the work with a changed title – Quintetto Accademico (the change of the title would confirm that the composer regarded the piece as a kind of exercise). The score and the voices were prepared for publication by Panufnik’s daughter, Roxanna, and in 1999 the quintet was published by the composer’s publishers, Boosey & Hawkes.

Quintetto Accademico is written for flute, oboe, two clarinets and bassoon; it consists of three movements: Prelude, Old Polish Triptych and Postlude. One again, the composer uses here themes from early Polish music. Like the Old Polish Suite and Concerto in Modo Antico, the quintet has a simplified texture, archaising harmony and simple, diatonic melody. The outer movements are figurative and use similar musical material. When it comes to the formal structure of the piece, the composer provides a formal 'framework' for it (a device he often used in his works), introducing in the last two bars of the Postlude exactly the same material from the first two bars of the Prelude, but reversed (‘mirror reflection’). 

The use of mirror symmetry testifies to the composer’s growing interest in the possibilities provided by the principles of symmetry in the construction of musical works. With time symmetry became the basic determinant of the formal as well as the melodic-harmonic structure of Andrzej Panufnik’s works.