Sinfonia Concertante (Symphony No. 4) for flute, harp, and strings
Sinfonia Concertante is Panufnik’s fourth symphony. It represents the type of a concertante symphony for a chamber ensemble, and is written for flute and harp accompanied by string orchestra.
Despite the fact that the symphony was commissioned by the Redcliffe Music Society, a direct impulse for writing it was the 10th anniversary of the composer’s marriage with Camilla Jessel (celebrated in 1973). Thus the work is a kind of wedding-anniversary gift for Panufnik’s wife. This is important to the structure of the work, because Panufnik made the first letter of his wife’s name, C, a kind of sonic centre of the composition (without specifying whether it is major or minor) from which it begins its progression and towards which it is working its way. The note also links the first and second movements of the symphony – it is played by the harp to end the first movement and is then taken over by the double bass to begin the second movement.The symphony consists of two highly contrasting movements: a singing, lyrical, peaceful Molto cantabile (which in Panufnik’s words could have been entitled Harmony because of its symmetry and sense of concord), and a dancing, rhythmical and lively Molto ritmico. The composition ends with a brief Postscriptum, marked by a return of the peace and harmony characteristic of the first movement. The warm atmosphere of the piece is created by sounds of the strings combined with the gentle colour of flute and harp. When it comes to its musical language, Sinfonia Concertante is based on the intervals of two triads: C-D-A in the linear dimension and E-F-B in the vertical dimension, together with their reflections and transpositions.