Dreamscape for mezzo-soprano and piano, 1977, 12'.

Dreamscape /excerpt/

Performers: Meriel Dickinson - mezzo-soprano, Peter Dickinson - piano; 1990 UNICORN-KANCHANA


Both Dreamscape, written in 1977, and Love Song, written one year earlier for voice and piano, grew from Camilla and Andrzej Panufnik’s acquaintance with the English composer and pianist Peter Dickinson and his sister Meriel Dickinson, a singer with a warm mezzo-soprano. Both works were written with her as the soloist in mind:

I wrote Dreamscape for Peter and Meriel Dickinson, using Meriel’s rich, warm voice predominantly as a musical instrument, with no words. In this vocalise, I was trying to express the unconscious 'language of the soul', the mystery of dreams.

In this 'dream language', although the music is precisely notated, the singer may freely and spontaneously choose during the performance the vowels she uses and the shapes of the phrasing. I made use of quarter-tones in the vocal line, searching for different textures and seeking to heighten emotional and poetic elements.

The atmospheric, wordless vocalise is an example of Panufnik’s original experiments with the human voice combined with the piano accompanying it. The composer convincingly builds a mysterious mood with oneiric associations. The piece beings quietly, then develops in an increasingly unsettling manner, leading to a dramatic climax in the middle section (the singer’s voice vergers on a scream here), after which the emotions are gradually calmed down.

Dreamscape was performed for the first time by Meriel and Peter Dickinson on 12 December 1977 in London. The artists also recorded it on CD, together with works by other British composers with dream-related themes.