Symphony No. 10, 1988, 21'
Wykonawcy: National Philharmonic Orchestra, Kazimierz Kord - conductor; 2001 CD Accord
The last symphony in Andrzej Panufnik’s catalogue resulted from his friendship with Georg Solti and the admiration this outstanding conductor had for the Polish composer’s music. Solti, as director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, asked Panufnik to compose a symphonic work in connection with the orchestra’s centenary in 1990. This commission led to the writing of Symphony No. 10. The work is the culmination of Andrzej Panufnik’s symphonic cycle, a cycle without parallel, in artistic and quantitative terms, in Polish composers’ oeuvre to date.
Symphony No. 10 is the only one among Panufnik’s symphonies without a title. This is how the composer wrote about it:
Symphony No. 10 is dedicated to Sir Georg Solti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, who commissioned it in celebration of the orchestra’s centenary. The commission was at once a great honour and a tremendous challenge. My first thought was to write a show-piece with virtuoso pyrotechnics to take fullest advantage of the celebrated technical possibilities of the Orchestra. However, I eventually decided that the best homage to these brilliant players would be a symphony which, through various combinations of groups of instruments, would demonstrate their supreme sound quality, show off their collective musicianship and humanity, and their ability to convey their intense and profound feeling.
Symphony is a single-movement work. Its structure, like that of most of Panufnik’s works from the 1970s onwards, is defined by a geometric figure. This time is the so-called ‘golden ellipse’, the shape of which determines the progression and structure of the work. The musical material of the symphony is based on a contrast between a tonal melodic line (introduced at the beginning by the trombone) and flow of the material of the E-F-B interval cell (the composer’s favourite cell). This device emphasises an element of rivalry between instruments or groups of instruments, heightening the dramatic and expressive effect of the work. The tension thus produced, progressing through the various instrument groups – from the brass with the percussion and the piano, to string groups with the woodwinds – leads to a turbulent climax of an orchestral tutti. It is suddenly cut short for emotions to be gradually calmed down – in the final coda the composer brings in a prayer-like mood created by the strings with small contributions from the flutes and clarinets as well as the harp, the last two arpeggios of which gently close the work.
Symphony No. 10 was premiered on 1 February 1990 in Chicago, with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra being conducted by the composer.