Sinfonia mistica for orchestra, 1977, 22'
22.214.171.124-126.96.36.199-strings (188.8.131.52.2 min).
Performers: Polish Radio and Television Symphony Orchestra - Katowice, Jerzy Katlewicz - conductor; 1993 Polish Radio SA
Sinfonia Mistica belongs to a group of three symphonies written by Andrzej Panufnik in the second half of the 1970s. They are: Sinfonia di Sfere (1975), Sinfonia Mistica (1977) and Metasinfonia (1978) – i.e. the fifth, sixth and seventh symphony in the catalogue of the composer’s works. All have a geometric core – both their form and internal structure are determined by the shape of a selected geometric figure, graphically presented by means of a diagram. In the case of Sinfonia Mistica the structure is based on the figure six:
The title Sinfonia Mistica reflects my deep fascination with the mystery and beauty of geometry; referring in this composition specifically to one figure which for me personally is a symbol of universal order and inner harmony. This figure illustrates the curious fact that it takes SIX circles precisely equal in size to fully encircle a seventh circle of the same size. This geometric figure instils a sense of wonder and seems to have some mystical significance. There is no denying that the structure and musical material of this symphony are influenced by this geometric figure.
The work consists of six sections that can be distinguished in the one-movement structure of the symphony. Each of the sections is based on six 3-note cells, contains six melodic patterns, six harmonic combinations and is composed in the metre of six (alternately 2+2+2 in the slow sections and 3+3 in the fast sections). In addition, this is the composer’s sixth symphony. All these elements confirm the symbolic nature of the number six, which inspired Panufnik.
But the mysticism from the title refers also to the mood created by the composer – especially in the slow sections, evoking ethereal and sophisticated sounds, which, combined with a contemplative mood, delight with their subtle beauty. The mysticism of numbers is thus combined with the spiritual mysticism of contemplation, contrasted in the fast sections (even-numbered) with quick movement, filled with more dramatic emotions, leading to a turbulent climax ending the work on a strong note.
Sinfonia Mistica, commissioned by the Northern Sinfonia, was premiered by this orchestra on 17 January 1978 in London, under Christopher Seaman.