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The concerto is scored for a small orchestra of one flute, two clarinets and strings. Panufnik describes it as ‘an abstract work with no literary programme’, but he then goes on to describe the music: ‘Perhaps in Recitativo I (bassoon and three woodwind instruments) the listener might hear [the priest’s] humble prayer to the Virgin Mary. Possibly Recitativo II, where the bassoon is supported by the interjected chords of the string instruments, is related to the priest’s fatal encounter with the secret police—the very last interrogation before his tortured body was thrown into the Vistula river.’ The aria that follows is the longest movement in the concerto, and Panufnik describes it as ‘a kind of elegy, for which I composed a long melodic line in the spirit and character of Polish folk song, maybe invoking Father Popiełuszko’s peasant origins’. The work is continuous. It is truly an astonishing addition to the solo repertoire for bassoon, a unique composition that places considerable demands on the soloist, and quite possibly the most powerful example in music of the bassoon’s incredible range and intensity of expression.
from notes by Laurence Perkins © 2021