Love Abide, a brand-new CD of choral pieces by Roxanna Panufnik, is not only pink and sunbursty in aspect, but also contains some truly gorgeous music.
…(Love Abide) radiates heart-warming positivity
Phil Sommerich, Classical Music Magazine
(to Roxanna, on Schola Missa de Angelis) “It’s so utterly ravishing I almost converted…it’s your masterpiece so far.”
Jim Svejda, KUSC fm, Los Angeles
The Lady Magazine, CD of the Week
If I had to name a single contemporary composer of choral music composing a music which denies neither its epoch, nor its roots, not the world in which we live, I would name Roxanna Panufnik. Her works not only show great technical refinement but also support the text efficiently and thus succeed in formulating an honest message worth sharing. The English composer (daughter of the composer Andrzej Panufnik) not only has the talent to shape her music very subtly, but also demonstrates an evident aesthetic sense and an imagination which inspires her to use the most diverse influences and to combine them in absolutely personal scores. This monographic disc, offering love music for the most diverse faith traditions, brings together some of the best compositions by Roxanna Panufnik, compositions which every lover of religiously-inspired choral music ought to get to know.
The disc features several short pieces, including the magnificent ‘Love Abide’ composed for the Philadelphia Choral Arts Society, a ‘Magnificat’ and ‘Missa de Angelis’ (in a Latin version for choir and string orchestra and an English-language arrangement for choir and organ).
Rémy Franck (trans. Peter Bannister), Pizzicato Magazine (Luxembourg)
Love Endureth opens the disc, and is an example of that rare beast, a piece of lively sacred choral music.
(on Love Abide, title track) …there are many powerful moments, notably the richly scored passage shortly before the end. The first part of the piece is a setting in English of a Sufi text. The opening rhythm has a delicious swing to it… it confirms that this is to be a collection with life in it.
(on Magnificat & Nunc Dimittis) …the work is both immediately appealing and satisfyingly beautiful. There are some truly ravishing sounds in Zen Love Song.
(on Schola Missa de Angelis) …a lovely work… beautifully written for voices, as is all the programme, and with an eloquent string orchestra accompaniment.
The performances from all concerned – most of them young – are exemplary. Panufnik is listed as Executive Producer and is surely satisfied with the results.
William Hedley, International Record Review
Compassion and universal loving-kindness are easy to preach, much harder to live. Roxanna Panufnik’s work concerns their enactment through sound, transforming abstract concepts into music that appeals to the heart and spirit of our common humanity, what philosopher David Hume called ‘fellow-feeling’.
The choral pieces on Love Abide deal in the positive rather than sentimental emotions of love, the former made for sharing, the latter made to promote an individual’s self-interested appearance of selflessness. Motherhood, explains Panufnik, broadened her spiritual outlook. She began exploring the essential wisdom of the world’s great faiths with the birth of her first child in 2002. Much of her art since, often created for the youngsters of the London Oratory Schola or the London Mozart Players, has been dedicated to the promotion of human flourishing.
The choral works on this album were inspired and variously influenced by the vast cultural legacy of the Abrahamic religions, the introspective beauty of Zen Buddhism and Sufi mysticism, and diverse contemplative traditions of sacred chant and verse. Its title work, Love Abide, flirts dangerously at first with ‘oriental’ pastiche before finding its individual and powerful expressive voice. Panufnik here pairs 13th-century Persian poet Rumi’s sublime poem ‘Love is the master’ with the great hymn to compassionate love from 1 Corinthians. Her musical style is tonal, often brightly coloured in harmony and spicy combinations of sounds; it also naturally embraces ancient folk and chant idioms.
Andrew Stewart, Sinfini.com
About Love Abide on the premiere for Choir and orchestra, Philadelphia 25.03.07
Compare that (Mendelssohn’s Lobgesang) with Roxanna Panufnik’s excellent Love Abide (commissioned by Choral Arts and premiered Saturday): While Mendelssohn reached new levels of homogeneity in Lobgesang, the British Panufnik shaded her music with sensual Turkish inflections. There was also uncompromising subtlety. The emptiness of life without love conveyed with a single, lonely harp note. There’s pain in this music when the text confronts giving up the low road for the high – a decision the sheltered Mendelssohn perhaps never needed to make.
David Patrick Stearns, The Philadelphia Inquirer, 27th March 2007
Panufnik here proffered a score of great and imaginative beauty (…) the piece made a powerful impression on the audience of nearly 700 (…)
Panufnik is a master, herself, at combining a central core of major/minor tonality with touches of medieval modality as well as Middle Eastern and quasi-Oriental colors and rhythms to produce a vocal and instrumental texture of surpassing transparency and agile strength. The text was not so much set to music as enhanced by it. Suzanne DuPlantis sang the all-important mezzo solo with elegant projection and emotional conviction, and Glandorf elicited sensitive yet secure singing from the choir, offering a substantive societal background against which individual love blossomed.
Michael Caruso, Chestnut Hill LOCAL, 26th March, 2007
John Clare, Music Programmer/Host WITF-FM 89.5
Roxanna Panufnik is one of the finest contemporary vocal composers around. No matter how demanding the subject matter, she always seems to find a way to set words that sit hand-in-glove with the text… (re: If I Don’t Know, Wendy Cope song-cycle) …such is Panufnik’s blinding musical wit and imagination that she negotiates each setting with a magician’s sleight of hand… …an uplifting setting of Tennyson’s ‘I dream’d’, which moves compellingly from utter desolation to an exultant final section via a sumptuously rich harmonic palette.”
Julian Haylock, International Record Review
About Angels Sing CD (previous choral CD with Warner Classics)
…what a superb composer for choir she is. (…) More than her deft handling of choral forces, it is Panufnik’s instinctive feel for those words which stands out here. (…) while there is some delicious word-painting (…) her real skill lies in an unerring ability to find, in musical language, the essence of the texts. I don’t think I will be alone after hearing this disc in begging for more of Roxanna Panufnik in the catalogue.
Marc Rochester, Gramophone (Editor’s Choice)
…she selects superb words but also sets them with sensitivity, imagination and skill. The Westminster Mass has an exultant joy which looks destined to make it one of the most popular settings of the liturgy of our time.
Robert Beale, Manchester Online
Panufnik’s choral writing is full, uplifting, extremely beautiful and in turn tender and joyful.
Antonia Couling, The Singer
The music resonates in one’s head long after the disc has stopped revolving. A hugely impressive achievement, crowning a disc that proclaims a composer of very evident talent.
Ivan Moody, International Record Review
Panufnik’s harmonic palette includes gorgeous bluesiness and moments of real surprise.
Meurig Bowen, BBC Music Magazine