Paul Driver, Sunday Times, 16th February 2014

“…[Michael Francis’] easily authoritative readings of Dvorak’s Violin Concerto…and New World Symphony provided a frame of familiarity for seldom-heard works by the somewhat neglected Polish composer…Andrzej Panufnik, whose centenary year this is.

His Sinfonia Sacra (1966) gave the concert a spectacular beginning. The first of its tightly written movements — three of them “Visions”, the last a “Hymn” ) — is launched by a shattering exchange of fanfares between four trumpeters ranged round the hall, or, on this occasion, at the corners of the orchestra. They return for the still more arresting end, and the incisive arguments in between made me feel that Panufnik is a kind of missing stylistic link between Bartok, Janacek or Nielsen and the Polish and Estonian schools following him. Certainly the account of his brief, fetching and technically daring Lullaby (1947), for 29 strings (each with its own part) and two harps, pointed us towards the avant-garderie of Penderecki; while Panufnik’s modal poignancies and meditative lingerings seemed to adumbrate the later manners of both Gorecki and Pärt…”