Reviews of Roxanna's work

"... her music owes nothing to modish fads. Again and again she has the courage of simple integrity, interweaving her very direct emotionality with elegant harmonies."
Wiener Zeitung(Vienna)

"... a gifted composer with a fast-growing reputation for heart, spunk and individuality ...distinctive in voice, serious, bold and appealing."
Fiona Maddocks, The Observer

"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... 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

"Panufnik’s art is something special, putting her among the elite composers in the world today."                                                            Stephen Ritter, Audiophile Audition


Celestial Bird CD

“…luminous settings of sacred texts…sumptuous harmonies that soar and sting…. Salve Regina captures, especially in this eloquent performance, the lilt and meditative space of medieval chant, albeit vividly reimagined. …luscious romanticism of Since We Parted… Child of Heaven swirls across a number of Indian modes… elegantly shaped and full of warmth, rather like this disc as a whole.”

Kate Wakeling, BBC Music Magazine

"…an imaginative, distinctive and expressive composer... 'Unending love' uses a poem by the Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore and mixes Western and South Indian music in a highly original way, with, as a formative element, Carnatic – South Indian – singing... this release, which is performed to a high standard, confirms Panufnik’s reputation for composing music which is demanding yet accessible, with emotion, sensuality and a lyrical play of colours.” (original review in German here)

Remy Franck, 4 stars

“…luminous and enticing… her writing for voices is always fluent and idiomatic Magnificat & Nunc Dimittis for St Pancras elides elegantly between its texts; a warmly expressive setting of Blake’s ‘A Cradle Song’ that avoids mawkishness; …a pleasurable disc.”

Richard Whitehouse, Gramophone Magazine

"...vivacious harmonies and church peals - joyous music!"

Jamie McDougall, album of the week, BBC Scotland "Classics Unwrapped" 

Songs of Darkness, Dreams of Light (Last Night of the Proms)

"Roxanna Panufnik’s stately Songs of Darkness, Dreams of Light, brought together Christianity, Judaism and Islam, its choral slurs and slides and jazzy brass and percussion powerfully evoking non-European traditions."                                    

Nick Kimberley, The Evening Standard

"The work is well laid out for the two groups and orchestra and in its modestly conservative idiom made a pleasing impression."                      

Alan Sanders,

"Roxanna Panufnik’s Songs of Darkness, Dreams of Light, combined a First World War poem and lines from Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet in a mood of mournful, eastern-flavoured tenderness.”                               

Ivan Hewitt, The Telegraph

St Pancras Magnificat

"Really striking choral textures..., right from the very opening she gains our full attention with a rising flourish settling on a radiant chord all reflecting the mood of the text... The harmonic language makes me think of a stained glass window - brilliant primary colours juxtaposed with more ambiguous muted effects." Sarah Walker, Sunday Morning, BBC Radio 3

99 Words CD

"Then there’s the title track: 99 Words to my Darling Children is the musical keystone to the programme, a work that pairs Tavener’s own text with Panufnik’s music – a homage that borrows Tavener’s instrumentation and even elements of his style while also remaining true to Panufnik’s own idiom. The result – a lullaby that cradles its sung text with infinite tenderness – is exquisite, and beautifully handled by Voce’s amateur singers."                               Alexandra Coghlan, Gramophone


"Probably of chief interest is Panufnik’s setting of 99 Words to my Darling Children, a beautiful piece made for these performers…”                        Philip Reed, Choir & Organ (5 stars)

"What a beautiful album. And what a fitting tribute to John Tavener and his unique artistic vision. 99 Words presents music that honors the memory of Tavener, interspersed with music by Tavener. It’s a powerful combination. The title track, “99 Words,” is a heartbreaking, yet inspiring work. The words are spoken, wreathen in choral sound clouds with a cello obbligato. The composer writes, “the cello represents John [Tavener] — supporting, encouraging, and embellishing the words.” And that’s exactly what it seems to do. Without copying Tavener, Panufnik has captured the essence of the composer. In the process, she’s transformed his deeply personal message into one we can all embrace.

This is just one of those releases where everything’s right — the program, the sequencing, the recording, the performances, and the music. Especially the music."
                                                            Ralph Graves, WTJU 91.1fm

Silver Birch

“Roxanna Panufnik’s Silver Birch embodies the power of music to transform lives and communicate a profound, universal message.

Jessica Duchen’s libretto seamlessly blends letters documenting the experiences of serving soldiers in Iraq with the poetry and diaries of soldier Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967) to convey a timeless picture of the individual cost of war without ignoring its related courage and comradeship.

Panufnik and Duchen’s achievement is to synthesise personal and poetic experiences, often harrowing and disturbing, into a work of beauty and hope.”  Amanda-Jane Doran, 5 stars

“Jessica Duchen’s libretto is powerful and poetic and Roxanna Panufnik’s music busy and imaginative. I liked her Gershwin-like harmonic richness and the idle Eastern melodic twists she introduced in the war-zone acts.

Whether it’s epic crowd scenes or anguished soliloquies, however, all are folded into a nonstop hour-long drama that is cinematic in its scope and fluidity.” Richard Morrison, The Times, 4 stars

“Roxanna Panufnik has chosen to describe her new creation Silver Birch as a people’s, rather than a community, opera in order to emphasise the extent to which it is intended to transform people’s lives. It is a noble aim and one that seems to be very much fulfilled. It is obvious that the work has had an enormous impact...

Panufnik’s music is both strong and accessible. It is designed to stretch the singers rather than patronise them, and yet is set up so that intriguing effects can be generated from music that is manageable for large groups to execute to a high standard.

Jessica Duchen’s libretto is highly effective, and includes poetry by Sassoon alongside popular songs.

…a work that it is safe to say is having an impact on performers and audiences alike, and which stands as one of the very best examples of this type of opera.” Sam Smith, 5 stars

“For Panufnik, this very professional piece of work should be a useful stepping stone to something bigger. For its cohorts of community singers and dancers, well drilled by conductor Douglas Boyd, this was a real achievement in itself.”  Richard Fairman, The Financial Times 4 stars


“… A remarkable event with a vast community cast.

There is a real sense of vision in this coming together, as clear in the unstoppable energy of the performers as it is in the excellence of the stagecraft displayed in Karen Gillingham’s complex production.

Verdict: Karen Gillingham’s staging of Roxanna Panufnik’s community opera is a remarkable event.”                                 The Stage, 4 stars

"Roxanna Panufnik writes bold passionate choruses, often easily lyrical but never simplistic or overtly popular. This was a magnificent undertaking for all concerned."   Brian Hick, Musical Opinion

“This was undoubtedly the most uplifting and moving evening I’ve spent in the theatre this year.

The juxtaposition of the children back home playing and taunting in the playground and the horror of the front line – one of the most effective on-stage evocations of war I’ve ever seen was almost unbearably poignant. Roxanna Panufnik’s fine music is full of mood change too.

I really hope that this fine work does not begin and end at Wormsley with three Garsington Opera performances in the heart of idyllic Oxfordshire countryside. It deserves many more outings – soon.”
                                                               Susan Elkin, Sardines Magazine

Cantator & Amanda

Roxanna Panufnik’s Cantator and Amanda for bassoon with string quartet was originally composed for the distinguished British bassoonist Julie Price and the Wihan Quartet, and it is a ravishing and compelling work that expertly exploits the communicative power of the bassoon. The piece illuminates the tale of the ill-fated love affair between a fourteenth-century monk in Rye, and a local ‘girl’, Amanda. A plaintive bassoon solo sets proceedings in motion, and Roxanna Panufnik’s music is exceedingly tender and evocative as the couple’s love blossoms. Following their failed attempt to elope however, the music becomes increasingly anguished and desperate as the hapless Cantator loses his mind and life, bricked up alive in the Friary walls, with a poignant bassoon solo that depicts the death of Amanda from a broken heart, concluding proceedings.
Leon Bosch,

Four World Seasons (CD)

"The opening 'Albanian Autumn' dances vigorously , then subsides into a soulful love song, before a Tibetan singing bowl heralds Winter: a subdued, thinly scored movement.'Spring in Japan' gradually burgeons into blossom and birdsong, while the Indian Summer' has a colourful opulence inflected by Raga modes. Panufnik draws the disparate elements together with inventive musicality, and Little and the orchestra clearly enjoy the rich variety she provides." 

Martin Cotton, BBC Music Magazine

"Panufnik has written a really effective response to Vivaldi, ideally tailored to Little's artistry."

Richard Bratby, Gramophone Magazine (also one of "Best New Classical Albums 2016")

"Diese Weltreise der Violinmusik gibt der Komponistin die Gelegenheit, verschiedene Stile zu kombinieren und so auf der Basis ihres eigenen Stils ein interessantes und attraktives musikalisches Panorama zu schaffen. Die abwechslungsreiche Musik ist bei Tasmin Little in den besten Händen."

"Roxanna Panufnik’s Four World Seasons are colourful and truly interesting pieces rooting in the traditional music of four different regions: Autumn in Albania, Tibetan Winter, Spring in Japan and Indian Summer. Tasmin Little, who commissioned the work, is an accomplished and punchy soloist."

"Avid lyricism and folkloric inflexions infuse Autumn in Albania, written in memory of her father Andrzej. The high-lying skittering figures sound like a Balkan lark, ascending, though there are also soulful moments where Little’s vibrato widens, sobbing into the autumnal air. The Tibetan singing bowl makes its presence felt in the second panel with its quasi-improvisatory elements – slow, spiritual, with a deeply long line. Rebirth features prominently in Spring in Japan, the tangy, clay-rich lower strings supporting the solo violin which gets more and more active and flighty as it burgeons into renewed life. Finally there is Indian Summer – Panufnik journeys not from Vivaldi’s Spring to Winter but from Autumn to Summer – in which fascinating hues and painterly colours lightly evoke, through violinistic techniques, Northern Indian traditional violin playing."

Jonathan Woolf,

Kyrie after Byrd

"Beginning and ending in hushed reverence, Panufnik's version slowly blooms in contemporary harmonies. Voices interweave in dusky colors, pierced by strands of white light from the upper ranges of ORA's beautifully blended sopranos. Two minutes in, the piece pauses on a lovely drone from the basses, before the vocal engine chugs back up to speed — ominous and inevitable." Tom Huizenga, NPR Classical


"… a poignant meditation on the celebrated African Miner's song… Shosholoza drew upon the lyrical aspects of the double bass, taking advantage of the instrument's wide range and breadth of sonority. In addition, the piano part transcended the role of a mere accompaniment, forming an essential strand of the score's fabric. Leon Bosch and Sung-Suk Kang were keenly responsive to the subtlety and delicacy of Panufnik's deeply-felt offering which exploited these players' particular skills…. deserves the widest possible circulation." Paul Conway, Musical Opinion Quarterly

Since we Parted

"... a wonderfully warm work of immense emotional sincerity interweaving two deeply-felt poems of lovers’ separations. Panufnik’s well-layered choral textures combined with adroit imagery from a tiny instrumental group to create a heart-stopping 10 minutes."

Christopher Morely, Birmingham Post

on Andrzej & Roxanna Panufnik

"Two very different personalities emerge, hearing Andrzej and Roxanna's works side by side, yet there are qualities in common: both love to use crunchy harmonies in which major and minor meet and greet, and there's a delicacy, a finesse, to the sound - the musical equivalent, if you like, of a shiny surface, gloss rather than matt. Roxanna's music, though, sounds free-spirited; she always leaves room for humour, or lament, or an exploration of far-off lands."                                                                            Jessica Duchen

Second Home & Glo - recorded by Clare Hammond (Bis -2003)

"Her first piano piece, Second Home, weaves variations around a haunting Polish folk tune in satisfyingly scrunchy harmonies, adding variety to Hammond’s imaginative performance." John Allison, BBC Music Magazine

"Hammond who has worked closely with Roxanna , captures both the brilliance and the brooding in these works. Modlitwa (Prayer’ 1990/99, arr 2013) was originally written for voice and keyboard; its sparse textures use mainly the upper registers, creating an ethereal quality. Second Home is Roxanna’s first piece for piano. A setting of variations on a Polish folk these, it is curiously evocative, with ample use of the pedal.” "CJ", International Piano Magazine 

(Second Home) "All of this music, in the skill, inspiration, clarity and altogether extraordinarily meticulous performance of the excellent pianist Clare Hammond, gives the impression of a pure, unsullied innocence and beauty, aided by the magnificent sounds of BIS’ SACD edition." Artem Avatinian, Gramophone Russia


Three Paths to Peace

"…Panufnik's 'Three Paths to Peace' is an evocative tone poem… Especially effective was the telling opening, a Muezzin-inspired violin soliloquy based on eastern melismatic microtonal portamenti, superimposed by peals of Anglican church bells, and later delicate oboe evocations of a shofar call. Overall Panufnik succeeded in creating an appealingly impressionistic orchestral tapestry, displaying her instinctive feel for collage-like superimpositions, overlapping and dovetailing of strands, which Gergiev wove into Transluscent textures."

Malcolm Miller, Musical Opinion

“Panufnik's starting point is the story of Abraham and its importance to Judaism, Christianity and Islam alike, and her score emphasises the need for tolerance by depicting the sacrifice of Isaac through the traditional music of all three faiths. The best of it is sensuously appealing: Sufi drum rhythms drive Abraham through his spiritual crisis; a tapestry of string figurations, gradually resolving into a monotone, eventually reasserts calm.”

Tim Ashley, The Guardian

“The quality of musicianship was clear in Roxanna Panufnik's Three Paths to Peace (2008), a work of sensuous quietude, in which Christian, Jewish and Islamic traditions meet.”

Fiona Maddocks, The Observer

“The very egalitarianism behind Panufnik’s piece perhaps reflects the orchestra’s priorities of peace, and it is expertly written. The concept is stimulating, and the realisation expert both in terms of Panufnik’s sensitive scoring and Gergiev’s realisation.”

Colin Clarke,

Memories of my Father

"Roxanna Panufnik’s piece starts with O Tu Andrzej, a sensuously chromatic tribute to her father’s admiration for the music of Gesualdo. Then Greek Photostory recalls childhood holidays in a rondo; its main theme acts as an increasingly unruly and bouzouki-like pizzicato Greek chorus. Bowed, mirage-like modal episodes culminate in bell-like rejoicing."  Hilary Finch, The Times

"Memories of my Father is, as its title suggests, a deeply personal work but also a joyous one and its diverse sonorities and mercurial character kept the listener involved from first bar to last. (both Roxanna's and Andrzej's works) were enthusiastically received by a capacity audience." Paul Conway, Musical Opinion

Reflections CD (A. & R. Panufnik)

"Roxanna's own piano output compliments that of her father. Second Home's elegant, sophisticated variations on a Polish folk theme are followed by a miniature composed in memory of a family friend. Modlitwa brings father and daughter together; Andrzej's prayer setting left unfinished, the text's second verse elaborated posthumously by Roxanna. This is a fascinating, rewarding recital; both composers' pieces recall and suggest the music of others – Bartók and Lutosławski the strongest influences – but they've very distinct, personal identities. Claire Hammond's performances exude warmth and authority, and her Steinway is impeccably recorded."                                                          Graham Rickson,

Dreamscape CD - Andrzej & Roxanna Panufnik

"Both composers have a love of lyricism, neither reduces their music to the intellect or constructions, both have something to communicate, and both compose based on moods in order to create moods… there are also significant differences between the music of the two composers, but Roxanna has designed this CD so that their common aspects are identifiable as a theme.
… both delve deeply into the lyrics in order to express the moods of the written word in music.
…executed by the performers with great dedication and talent…a wonderful homage by a daughter to her dad on his 100th birthday."

Remy Franck, Pizzacato

Dance of LIfe:Tallinn Mass CD

"Ecstatic, affirmative…brilliantly performed… sensationally recorded" Graham Rickson, The Arts Desk

"Magnificent music… The Performance is superb, as is the clear and brilliant sound. Panufnik's art is something special, putting her among the elite composers in the world today."                                                        Stephen Ritter, Audiophile Audition

Modlitwa (string orchestra) Andrzej & Roxanna Panufnik

"Panufnik's opening theme, with its strange major/minor bitonality is strangely haunting, his daughter's middle section develops this to create more complex textures. The result is a highly effective string piece."

Love Abide CD

"It’s a wonderful fusion of choral traditions and mysticism in three religions, very much at the centre of her preoccupations with the interstices of faith. I loved it."

Norman Lebrecht,

"A potent inter-faith mix of Zen, Christian, Sufi and Hebrew. Tasty listening... very brightly sung…"

Geoff Brown, BBC Music Magazine

"...with fragments of Spanish Sephardic chant, Christian plainsong, Sufi rhythms and Japanese lullaby, the results are mesmerising. The finale was a choral rendition of Love Endureth by British a cappella group VOCES8 that left us spellbound."

Katharine Fry,

Further reviews available on Reviews page.



"Roxanna Panufnik’s Orchestrapaedia is a light-hearted response to Britten’s Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra. Her approach is somewhat akin to Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals in that she seeks to personify the various instruments, imbuing them with an assortment of names and personalities as the story of a “day in the life” of the orchestra unfurled. The story itself was detailed colourfully in the programme notes and further enhanced by Jem Panufnik’s projected illustrations. Not only did the inclusion of these images allow for the progressive sections to be immediately clear for a first-time listener, but they also allowed for a smoother flow overall, since a narrator was unnecessary. The style of the work was a theatrical fusion of various musical genres, most notably jazz and folk, which was strikingly different to her father’s more Eastern-European style of writing. A succinct and engaging addition to the canon of orchestral “guides”."

Philip May,

"The clarinet variation, with the big brassy swing-band climaxes which were supposed to represent the husband being woken up by his wife, would be regarded as grounds for divorce in some circles, and would certainly lead to irate appearances on daytime reality TV shows. The programme was illustrated with projected cartoons by the composer’s brother Jem Panufnik, enjoyable in themselves and with a quirky humour that recalled Hoffnung. Nevertheless one suspects that the future of the work may be as a purely orchestral set of variations – a Variations and Fugue on a theme of Purcell rather than a Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra – and as such it would be an enjoyable concert piece in its own right."

Paul Corfield Godfrey,

"Highly visual and sonorous due to the innovative combination of classical, jazz and Riverdance-style sounds, the gorgeous melodies and illustrations consisted of mysterious percussions, shimmering flutes and piccolos, cranky oboes, swooping clarinets, a booming bass, fiery Mexican trumpets, sexy alpine horns and romantic strings. It was a strikingly unique piece that complemented the lively personality of its composer. The vibrant and humorous illustrations by Jem Panufnik (Roxanna’s brother), which were projected behind the orchestra, complimented the music exquisitely. Notably captivating images included the duelling, sombrero-wearing Mexican trumpet, the star cross’d lovers violin and cello and my personal favourite, butterfly flutes."

Lowri Martinson,

The Song of Names

"...The Song of Names by Roxanna Panufnik, based on Norman Lebrecht’s novel about a Polish refugee whose family died in the Holocaust.

Ms Panufnik’s ability to make an emotional connection, particularly in matching words to music, was evident both in the baritone solos sung with awesome power by Nigel Cliffe and in the exceptional choruses from the PGS Chamber Choir.

The sense of grief was almost tangible, yet the music is ultimately very uplifting.

The choir and the London Mozart Players under Nicholas Cleobury displayed fervour, finesse and flair in catching every different shift of mood."

 Mike Allen, Portsmouth News

All Shall be Well

"The Panufnik is a real find, a piece that deserves a place in the canon of contemporary classics along with works by composers like Mortensen and Whitacre, which it resembles in its ecstatic lyricism."

 Stephen Eddins,

"Panufnik's Anthem, All Shall be Well, confirmed her excellence as a choral composer, using singable but intriguing harmonies and relishing in sudden dynamic shifts. Exultate's affection for this work was always clear, and they produced a beautiful sound."

Paul Kilbey,

Magnificat & Nunc Dimittis

"... a lightly Life of Pi-esqe celebration of faith, was a compelling and joyous listen. The organ part bubbled excitedly beneath the choir, who sang their harmonically sweet, exploratory music very effectively (...) this was a delightfully fresh take on a not-so-fresh tradition."

Four World Seasons

"We had a high old time on Saturday at the London premiere of Roxanna Panufnik's Four World Seasons. It's a far-flung take on the Four Seasons concept, integrating folk styles from around the world with Roxanna's distinctive, often bitonal harmonic voice. It manages to be original, imaginative and listenable without sacrificing one jot of character; and while demanding for the performers, it also looks and sounds enjoyable for them to play. Written for Tasmin Little and the London Mozart Players, it suited them down to the ground, and the Fairfield Halls audience gave it a warm welcome.

"Autumn in Albania" is full of Balkan rhythmic quirks and delicious folksy-Gypsyish slides; "Tibetan Winter" is an icy landscape haunted by a Tibetan "singing bowl"; "Spring in Japan" wakes up the earth from deep-rooted double basses through to the Japanese bush warbler on the fiddle; and "Indian Summer" is colourful, catchy and clever, transforming pizzicati on low strings into the flowing rhythms of the tabla, and turning Tasmin's violin into a singer. A terrific concert piece to put alongside those other Seasons from Vivaldi and Piazzolla - it's for the same forces, give or take the Tibetan singing bowl - and if recorded pronto, it ought to do well on Classic FM."

Tibetan Winter

“This evocative piece used Tibetan song as its inspiration, and Tasmin Little coaxed a huge variety of vocal qualities and colours from her solo line as the gentle declamation of the initial material became increasingly ornamented, phrase endings echoed by the string ensemble. As the violin line became less song-like glacial orchestral harmonics formed a chill background until the warmer sounds of cellos and basses brought the piece to an end.”
John Gough, Birmingham Post

“With its unfamiliar tonal scales, bursts of tremolo and sudden stops it had a distinctly otherworldly feel. As the violin melody became more pronounced, the upper strings provided an eerie accompaniment using harmonics. It was as if the music was gliding over the frozen wastes of a distinctly chilly Tibet.”
Roger Jones, MusicWeb International

“... like a frozen Lark Ascending.”
Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post

Indian Summer

"Complementing Vivaldi's Venetian hinterland Four Seasons, which (Tasmin) Little directed from the violin in the second half, Panufnik's cycle takes its inspiration from far and wide, and here the drones and microtonal slides of subcontinental music are much in evidence, summoning a sense of sultry heat. Little's violin soared free of the dense textures and insect-activity, and we ended on a long-drawnout resolution of satisfying finality."

Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post

Spring in Japan

“... This tiny piece, receiving its premiere here, burgeoned with joyous exhilaration, Little's solo line trilling and dancing, and interacting zippily with various soloists from Curtis' orchestra.”
Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post

Love is the Master (from Love Abide)

"Panufnik's work was a fascinating piece as the composer has used Sufi rhythms and scales to give the piece a tempting exoticism; it opens with infectious rhythms in the strings over which the choir sing smoother, more densely texture choral lines. The whole piece has an immense propulsion which seems to go with drive of the words."


Second Home

"a work of self-evident mastery of a variety of styles:... .. an absolute joy to listen to,"

                                                                Alexander Leonard, Musical Opinion

Let me in

"Panufnik's setting has an emotional gutsiness and an anguished, bitonal harmonic language that combines with the energy of the ancient chant to pack a hefty punch."         Jessica Duchen, Standpoint


Schola Missa de Angelis

“This magical moment feels like an unexpected break in the clouds, a vision of God’s dazzling rays shining through, and has great dramatic impact. The voices float upwards, the trebles harmonising in gentle thirds before the toiling brasses resume. These glimpses of eternity happen twice more before the work closes on a final peaceful resolution. ...a valuable addition to the canon of accessible choral settings of the Eucharist. It is sure to find its way into the repertoire of parish choirs...” 

Rick Jones, The Tablet

Spirit of the Saints (CD)

"One might well ask whether there is a need for another recording of Westminster Mass but listening to this disc will make it clear that it was a very good idea. ...a very fine Kyrie cum Jublio for organ, performed by Lee Ward, which makes one long to hear what else the composer might do for the instrument. ..."Sleep little Jesus"  abounds in impressive choral effects aimed at suggesting "a psychedelic effect of angels looking down from heaven upon the sleeping Jesus" that certainly distances it from more conventional Christmas fare. Impressive indeed."  Ivan Moody, Gramophone

"Panufnik's sacred writing is enhanced by her deeply spiritual thought processes and a refreshingly unusual approach to the text."        

Shirley Ratcliffe, Choir & Organ

"The Westminster Mass, which (...) exists in versions for organ and for orchestra, but the present version, for organ, bells, and harp along with the choir, is especially fortunate; the mass is structured, both in obvious ways and in subtler ones, around church-bell patterns, and the harp brings these out beautifully. It's an especially effective presentation of Panufnik's style, which can be quite dissonant but relies on the expansion of basic materials in a way that's easily accessible. The version of the Ave Maria heard here is also new, and in fact was made expressly for this recording. This is another high point, showcasing Panufnik's distinctive and often personal readings of familiar texts; in place of the familiar Schubertian mood here, she offers a setting that's both mystical and occasionally explosive. ...A top-notch job all around."

James Manheim,

"Panufnik deliberately avoids the trite, choosing instead to employ dissonance that is still serene. The music fills the space and embraces extraneous sound; while I was listening, the local church bells, the howling wind, my wife’s computer antiphonal sounds, as well as dogs barking outside, were absorbed by the music. This democracy of sound retains the sacred mood but employs a contrasting subtext of chromatic harmony.  Also represented here are some excellent songs and excerpts, including a lovely Sleep Little Jesus , a unique Ave Maria , and a rousing Jesus Christ Is Born Today . The sound quality is enhanced by the natural acoustics of the Hampstead Parish Church. David Wolman,


"Ms Panufnik combines Slavic 2 and 3 rhythms to form a cleverly built architecture of sound."
ukö - Stuttgarter Nachrichten, 9 March 2009

Two Poems by Wendy

"...bears rich textural contrasts, spiky humour and a real sense of fun across its five-minute course. The finely chiselled music catches the flavour of Wendy Cope's verse, by turns edgy (as in 'the homeless hammer'), whimsical ('solitary beer-mat') and light of heart. Panufnik brilliantly combines the spirit of a playground song with the tarnishing air of adult urban neuroses in 'Some Rules' to warn against answering e-mails 'when you're drunk'! Panufnik's Two Poems is ideal matter for pitch-secure singers who delight in the music of words."

Andrew Stewart, Choir & Organ

"A diptych commissioned this year from Roxanna Panufnik humorously takes the sensationalised banality of two poems by Wendy Cope to an almost surrealist plane."

Andrew Johnstone, Irish Times

The Audience

"Roxanna Panufnik’s The Audience is a highly perceptive take on some of the different characters that populate concert halls. Using witty texts by Wendy Cope the piece surveys a wide range of styles and emotions. Much humour is evident and there is also some wonderfully moving and evocative music that stands alone as testament to Panufnik’s considerable skill: ‘The Widow’ is particularly lush, sensitive and evocative. Panufnik writes wonderfully for strings. The Tippett Quartet was on fine form bringing a rich sound to bear on this fine work, and there was lively narration from Julia Kogan. Hopefully none of us could possibly fit into the mould of the characters portrayed." Colin Anderson, Classical Source

"The quartet appeared to be enjoying the parody as much as the listeners it was about, and breaking down the mental barriers and conventions of a classical concert, it was a riotously funny and insightful piece."                Rob Garratt, Norwich Evening News

That Mighty Heart

“.. The finest songs, as always, were those in which music respects words, and sound and are inextricable. Elias’s contribution ranks among their number, as does Roxanna Panufnik’s majestic Wordsworth setting That Mighty Heart,... “ Tim Ashley, The Guardian

“Other, subtler, composers moved and charmed us by not forgetting the old-fashioned virtues: lyrical vocal lines; form and function unified; a willingness not to show off. (other composers listed) Roxanna Panufnik all shaped memorable and useful songs that treated their texts and the audience with respect.” Geoff Brown, The Times

Spring & A Summer Wish

"...both works revealed a remarkable ear for instrumental and choral scoring, ranging from the ultra-economical to the most lush. (...) The new piece is marked "languorously" and aptly matched the season. It certainly warmed the hearts of an appreciative audience on a cold eve of British Summer Time."
Derek Beck, Hampshire Chronicle

Stay with Me

“... ethereal and beseeching...”
Geoffrey Norris, The Telegraph

"Panufnik's (setting of Stay with Me) is more sensuous and opulently textured... Panufnik's Prayer proves another attractive find."
Andrew Achenbach, GRAMAPHONE Magazine

"From its dramatic cri de coeur opening, Panufnik’s version, for double choir and organ, was an almost feverish outpouring. Lingering chords in the cathedral’s acoustic accentuated the sense of mystery, and an almost pained chromaticism assisted in plumbing the depths of anguish and fear. (...) Panufnik almost ended with a major choir; but this resolution might have suggested too much certainty after the preceding turmoil, and the work concluded on a question mark."
Maggie Hamilton, CHOIR & ORGAN

“... grandly transcendental ... that floated in blocked discords with delayed resolution, clouding the sonorities like aural incense.”
Michael White, The Catholic Herald

Winters Near

“It is exquisite in its subtle and evocative word setting, allowing voice, piano and horn opportunity to explore the emotional depth and subtleties of the sonnet. The result is a hauntingly beautiful new song demonstrating Panufnik’s mastery of vocal and instrumental writing.”
Kenneth Richardson, Festival Director, 2008 Temple Festival

This Paradise

“... It was for me a rarity to be listening to completely current modern classical music, and I have to say I was slightly surprised by how much I managed to enjoy it when forced to listen properly. Dissonant and almost astructural, certainly, but also so wonderfully rich and with such wonderfully disturbing emotional currents and quite simply very beautiful in parts.”
Tzozen Blog


“... Solo violin phrases echoed by other instruments, until the echoes coalesced into a luscious accompaniment.”
Richard Morrison, The Times

Love Abide

John Clare, Music Programmer/Host, WITF-FM 89.5

“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

“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

Beastly Tales

"… The Crocodile and the Monkey, a setting by the brightly talented Roxanna Panufnik of an Indian folk tale recounted in poetry by Vikram Seth.”

“Panufnik’s illustrative flourishes captured the ear through … Lunge, grab, snap, drowning, slaughter: such words always pricked an imaginative response.”
The Times, 12 July 2002

"...Panufnik calls upon one ravishing, ear-tweaking sonority after another, often with a sensuality that is hauntingly Ravelian at times, enlivened by a propulsiveness and vocal directness that is no less reminiscent of early Boulez. ...and yet at all times Panufnik retains her own unmistakeable identity, encompassing a vast variety of moods from the lugubriousness of the tortoise to a stunning evocation of frog-calls... Bearing in mind that these exuberantly brilliant scores... the resounding success of this recording should hardly come as any surprise. The recording captures the palpable sense of occasion with just the right degree of warmth and ambient detail."
Julian Haylock, International Record Review

"Panufnik cleverly conjures up a different sound-world for each story... based on the characteristics of the animals involved... her vocal settings of the verse are highly responsive to the wit of the words... Conductor Sian Edwards draws ripe performances from all concerned, with the full range of Panufnik's imagination exploited by the CLS (City of London Sinfonia) players...a delight for children of all ages."
Matthew Rye, The Telegraph

The Hare & the Tortoise

"Panufnik's music equals the imagination and style of (Vikram) Seth's words, catching the humour and characterisation in her impressive orchestration, not to mention the subtle turns of phrase and quick changes of mood. (...) This work is thoroughly entertaining, musically satisfying and a lot of fun."

A Kind of Otherness

"In the Ave Regina Coelorum (Hail Queen of Heaven) Panufnik creates impressive swirls of tonal colour, smudging the borders between notes with half tones and overtones which are underpinned by a restless dissonance. It was an inspired touch to overlay the last stanza with words from the 11th-century poet Hermann the Lame pleading to the Virgin for mercy. Panufnik's dynamic setting of Psalm 96 O Sing to the Lord in the middle section was quite thrilling and paved the way for the concluding Te Lucis Ante Terminum (Before the End of the Day), which exuded warmth and optimism."
Susan Nickells, The Scotsman

The Upside Down Sailor CD, Black Box

"Roxanna Panufnik's brilliantly crafted score for wind ensemble complements Stilgoe's skills as narrator. The music is shot through with wit and no little drama, lifting it way above the level of underscoring to reach high in the direction of Stravinsky's Soldier's Tale or Poulenc's Babar the Elephant."
Album of the Week, Music Week, 5 July 2003

Angels Sing CD

"…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

Abraham, violin concerto

"Panufnik's concerto is substantial and ear-catching... Like much of the composer's music, the 17-minute concerto's virtues are modesty, craft and understated elegance."
Financial Times

Three Paths to Peace

"Listen to Panufnik’s Three Paths to Peace and some extraordinary linkages occur between the disparate traditions she has recruited. Of course the assumption of the work is that they are no more disparate than complementary. It works, at first defiantly but then organically. It becomes increasingly possible to hear technical discord as imaginative concord." 
Franks on Friday, Articles of Faith, The Times

Powers & Dominions

"Powers and Dominions (...) described by the composer as a 'concertino'. But it says more than many grander works. (...) Panufnik's individual voice comes through from the start as her thematic ideas take shape, but it is only as the work is lulled hypnotically towards its close that all the themes fall perfectly into place; the music is never obvious but instantly likeable."
John Allison, The Times, 6 November 2001

"... a ravishingly lucid creation (...) the effect was like an aural tapestry of constantly shifting colours and textures, occasionally punctuated by moments of dramatic intensity and great beauty - quite magical."
David Hart, Birmingham Post, 7 November 2001

"Roxanna Panufnik pushes one instrument to its limits in her new concertino for harp, one of her strongest achievements yet (...) Panufnik exploits both the familiar, ravishing flourishes and the strange, percussive side not normally heard (...) These were only the more arresting features of an intricate musical landscape in which a second harp played a ghostly, shadowing role, creating an aural radiance with the soloist and vibraphone. (...) Here's a piece for immediate assumption into the repertoire."
Fiona Maddocks, The Observer, 11 November 2001

If I Don't Know (song-cycle on poems by Wendy Cope)

"The ability to be witty and serious at the same time is both rare & admirable and forms the chief quality of If I don't Know, an engaging song-cycle by Roxanna Panufnik... a spirited and delightfully witty setting ... There are many imaginative, naturalistic touches reflecting the composer's experience in choral and vocal composition... "
Malcolm Miller, TEMPO Magazine

"The music mirrored the sentiments expressed in the poetry brilliantly. The dreamy By the Round Pond, was especially evocative."
Cheltenham Echo, 2004

"...her setting captured the blend of serious and witty sentiment... showing her inspired talent for dramatic gesture, often emphasising a word or phrase either in cabaret-style speech or a throwaway motif."
Musical Opinion

Westminster Mass

"May God richly reward her for what she has achieved, and we thank her for enhancing our prayer. She is helping us to pierce in some manner the cloud which separates us from Him, the Holy One to whom all glory and honour must be given."
Cardinal Basil Hume OBE, homily at the premiere 21st May 1998

"Some CDs give you interest, some pleasure, and a very few deliver both in such abundance it's worrying. This disc alarms me, it's so comprehensively attractive. Until now, the claim to fame of Roxanna Panufnik has largely been as the daughter of the composer Andrzej. But with her Mass setting - written for Cardinal Hume before his death - she emerges as a major figure in her own right… Fiercely recommended."
Michael White, The Independent on Sunday, 7 November 1999.

"At its premiere last year, Roxanna Panufnik's Westminster Mass caused quite a stir; and its recording by Westminster Cathedral Choir under James O'Donnell shows why. The daughter of Polish composer Andrzej Panufnik has her own individual voice - tonal, expressive, keenly spiced with chromatic harmony, and finding room within a seven-movement English-language Mass setting for such haunting ideas as the harp's flowing accompaniment to the Gloria, while elsewhere strings and bells surround the voices like a halo.
Malcolm Hayes, Classic FM Magazine, October 1999.

"...a jewel... Panufnik's exquisite Mass setting - a relative model of clarity, and written from the heart - was the best music on offer in London... It was clear that the piece is an absolute entity, and as a musical composition stands on its own, coherent and convincing. And it is a beautiful composition, sensitively orchestrated... It's ethos is romantic but never over the top, sweet but unsentimental, and characterised by rich, gentle harmonies and a devotional, quietly fervent sense of atmosphere. It also has a number of melodic hooks that are instantly memorable. This, like the best of it's type, is a Mass that will travel and be taken up - for purely musical performance - by a range of choirs and chamber orchestras. It's ravishing."
Michael Tumelty, The Glasgow Herald, May 1999.

Roxanna Panufnik "is one of the country's most sought-after composers. Last year she was commissioned to write Westminster Mass to celebrate Cardinal Hume's 75th birthday… It's a moving tribute to a man who was genuinely loved by people of all faiths. Panufnik puts her study of the harp to good use and, with the superb singing of the Westminster Cathedral Choir, creates a truly heavenly sound."
Nick Bailey, Classic FM Magazine, November 1999.

"Conceived for liturgical use - though including an orchestra of strings, harps and bells - there are some effective and affecting passages, such as the beautiful chords which the choir sings at the start of the Gloria. There is warmth and expression."
Classic CD, December 1999.

"Bells accompany the opening of Roxanna Panufnik's Westminster Mass and confer upon it an immediately distinctive identity… Most immediately attractive is the Sanctus: not the usual awe-struck worship but a happy gambolling of children before a throne decked for Christmas… On early and necessarily brief acquaintance it seems an intriguing compound in style and appeal; and the first impression is at least memorable."
Gramophone, November 1999.

"This is wonderful music: radiant, soaring, deeply felt... Roxanna Panufnik's command of choral texture is remarkably assured, and she avoids false rhetoric, preferring a calmly judicious approach to the demands of her liturgical text. In spite of the innumerable both good and bad precedents confronting her she has the assurance to make her own distinctive approach, especially in the Sanctus and Agnus Dei. This is a work which deserves international recognition and I look forward to hearing it again soon".
Geoffrey Crankshaw, Musical Opinion

"The Westminster Mass is extremely beautiful... here was something unarguably spiritual, something which forced you to take the entire proceedings seriously... passing dissonances resolve into consonant harmonies that break through like a shaft of light before they are resolved again... I would put a few bob on the Westminster Mass achieving a good deal of popularity in performance: it is well within the capacity of a good amateur choir and must be a most thoroughly enjoyable sing. Panufnik's publishers, Kalmus, could well have a hit on their hands."
Martin Anderson, Tempo

"Created by the Cathedral Choir in May 1998, the Westminster Mass of the young and beautiful Roxanna Panufnik - of which only the Deus, Deus meus has already been recorded (by the same artist, with Koch) - is a delicious surprise, a cathedral of contrasts embellished with subtly dissonant harmonies. The melodic lines are clear and very easy to read, the orchestration delicate, well thought out and original (with harps and bells). Here we have fresh, devilishly expressive music, music which never spurns the text, but paints it effectively. The famous Westminster Cathedral Choir trebles perform this work with talent, using their head voice with such inimitable resonance, and with strength..."
Diapaison, December 1999.

The Music Programme: BOC Covent Garden Festival, London

"Far and away the most enjoyable aspect of things was Panufnik's music - nearly always engaging and often quite beautiful. Musical references abounded - clearly West African kora and xylophone playing in scene one, jazz and blues in scene two, Mozart, Latin-American dance, and so on… There was some lovely writing for a cappella voices, and the ensemble, under Wojciech Michniewski brought out the composer's many pleasing sounds and textures with aplomb."
The Independent, 29 May 2000

"The young British composer Roxanna Panufnik's new operatic adaptation of Paul Micou's clever novel The Music Programme presented some lushly attractive washes of sound."
The Daily Telegraph, 5 June 2000

The Music Programme: Teatr Wielki, Warsaw, Poland

"The Music Programme is a work of warm-hearted humour and outrageous satire. The most exciting compositional trick Panufnik pulls is to represent the different characters by contrasting musical styles: Bach for the Bach-obsessed Dr Lord, Mozart for the demure but sensual pianist Eleanor, sprechstimme for the 'outsider' McCray, and so on… One might imagine that this technique would lead to aural chaos, but everything is clearly bound together by Panufnik's gloriously luminous harmony and some wonderfully inventive orchestration. Everything seems pared down to the essentials in this 75-minute work, demanding the audience's attention on a very detailed level and repaying it with wit and some rapturous moments."
BBC Music Magazine, June 2000

"This is a genuine, ambitious chamber opera, accessible to an averagely informed public, and revealing all its charm to a listener who is acquainted with the history of music and has listened widely. … broad seams of humour, interesting harmonic ideas and the rich musical imagination of the composer. And above all miraculous play is made with the conventions of the world of opera, with its simplifications and identically symbolic treatment of reality and sound."
Zycie (Polish national newspaper)

"Roxanna Panufnik knows how to write vocal music. She understands the potential of the human voice and takes care to expose it in an attractive way, which is something contemporary composers often neglect."
Rzeczpospolita (Polish national newspaper)

Private Joe (2000) for baritone, string orchestra

"It was (Nigel) Cliffe's great-uncle, killed near Ypres, who furnished Panufnik with the launch-pad for her new piece. Private Joe, a compact five-section song cycle, is framed by two touchingly humdrum letters home from a doomed British Tommy. His opening appeal is pounded home by Debussian ostinati and a strongly delineated, rather effectively shaped vocal line. Thicker clusterings, comic repetitions and drunken slurrings underline the erratic, scherzoid black humour of "And when I die". "The Letter" is a strikingly varied, poignant, nervy setting of less familiar Wilfred Owen.

With his tragically-wrought feminine endings ("smutted", "ragged") and ominous iterations ("solitary and black"), Cliffe constantly confirms the operatic aspect of the writing : kit him up, hollow his eyes and we would be in the genre of Maxwell Davies music theatre. The ending is tragic clown - part lyrical, part howling, obsessive and mad. A marked achievement, above all because Panufnik has the range, talent and imagination to skirt the threatened kitsch."
Roderick Dunnett, The Independent

Virtue, for Mezzo-soprano and strings

"Add to the roster of goodies, Virtue which is a score of harmonic finesse and eloquence."
Christopher Grier, Evening Standard

"...A tenderly expressive song..."
Edward Greenfield, The Guardian

"...a very moving tribute ... very lovely piece ... hypnotic little changes of harmony ... an individual work."
On Air, BBC Radio 3

Little Polish Suite, woodwind quartet

"...cheerfully extrovert, and scored with the craftmanship expected from the 25 year-old daughter of Andrzej".
Musical Opinion

Olivia, string quartet

"What is so impressive about Olivia is its composer's surefootedness in dealing with the quartet medium. Her intuitive grasp of large-scale form is fluent enough for composers twice her age (she is not yet 30) to be proud of... The writing here truly has the prerequisite dialogue of four equals of a real string quartet... Olivia is quite the finest composition of Roxanna Panufnik's that I have heard to date. It shows considerable technical resources in its 16 or so minutes and, expressively, catches perfectly the complex irony and double-edged attraction in Shakespeare's play."
Guy Rickards, Tempo

"...highly original and intensely emotional... a Shakespeare-inspired contemplation with narrative elements and a deeply romantic undertone (with integrated humming of the musicians and the final, aching cry on the viola particularly fine touches)..."
Michael Tumelty, The Glasgow Herald

Olivia with children's choir

"From the hushed sound of ethereal breezes to whistles and shimmering glissandos, this is an exciting composition worth many another hearing"
Marion Cox, Dorset Evening Echo

"haunting and atmospheric in its melancholy... an intriguing combination of illustration and commentary... a telling mixture of emotionally manipulated harmonies and communicative string devices, eloquently textured, it adds a resourcefully deployed childrens' chorus, running through a gamut of vocal techniques "
Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post

The Call

"She (Roxanna) adds to the choir a harp, creating an opulent, even heady setting, the continual upward motion of the harp sounding like clouds of rising incense; it's a gorgeous piece, each stanza bestowed with Panufnik's trademark rich tonality."

Inkle & Yarico

Arranged and orchestrated from the original 1787 harpsichord score by Dr. Samuel Arnold.

"a stirring experience... Inkle and Yarico is a gem to be exploited"
Anthony Thorncroft, Financial Times

"The melodies, by Samuel Arnold, were harmonised and orchestrated in an engagingly quirky manner by Roxanna Panufnik and the evening was brought to a thrilling conclusion by a splendid calypso employing every acrobat, juggler and fire-eater on the island"
Humphrey Burton, Classic Fm Magazine

Piano Tuner, Untune Me That Tune, narrator and piano


"The young and talented composer, Roxanna Panufnik, had been ask to compose... music on a well-known chopsticks theme to poems by Ogden Nash, and on this performance alone she demonstrated a keen ear for the written (and spoken) text. Her music was highly amusing, teasingly chromatic and imaginative ..."
Tim Stein, Ham & High (Hampstead & Highgate Express)


The Review section contains reviews of the following: