Landscape, interlude for string orchestra, 1962 (rev. 1965), 7'

Landscape /excerpt/

Performers: London Symphony Orchestra, Andrzej Panufnik - conductor; 1989 UNICORN-KANCHANA


In 1962 Andrzej Panufnik composed a short work for string orchestra, entitled Landscape. As he himself wrote:

This is an attempt to convey musically a landscape of my imagination, similar to those I have seen in Suffolk or remember from Poland – a boundless landscape which evokes melancholy – where the far distant, evanescent horizon induces a sense of space and unconfined contemplation. It contains an echo of Poland in the musical texture. In design, it is constructed in three sections. The second section mirrors the first, like seeing the same landscape from the opposite end. The third section returns to the viewpoint of the first, but one might feel that heavy clouds have gathered low over the land. In the last bars of this short interlude for string orchestra, perhaps one might imagine oneself staring at a point in the dissolving horizon until it fades into infinity.

In accordance with the composer’s intentions and like the Autumn Music written at the time, Landscape is full of melancholy and a kind of typical Polish ‘sorrow’. Using the sonically uniform apparatus of a string orchestra and having it slowly develop successive musical ideas, the composer builds a mood full of contemplation and reflection. This is achieved thanks to gentle harmonic chords, once again using major and minor third intervals – a characteristic feature of Andrzej Panufnik’s musical language, especially in his pre-1968 works.

The short, only 7-minute-long Landscape was described by the composer himself as an interlude for string orchestra, because apart from its brevity, it must have constituted an interlude in his work on larger pieces – Autumn Music (completed in its original version also in 1962) and Sinfonia Sacra (completed one year later, in 1963).

The premiere of Landscape took place on 13 November 1965 in Twickenham, near London, where the composer settled after his marriage to Camilla Jessel. The English Chamber Orchestra was conducted by the composer.