#90seconds (5) - Pawel Szymanski

The Matangis have started a new initiative: #90seconds.
Matangi seeks deepening and artistic interpretation of online artistry in these times of isolation and loneliness.

Based on Helmut Krausser's novel Melodien, Matangi is looking for the secret melodies with mysterious healing powers which are believed to be lost. Composers from all over the world participate in this quest and compose a 90-second melody for string quartet. (read more)

For my 19th birthday my dear friend and amazing jazz-violinist Jeffrey Bruinsma gave me a CD that changed my life. A few years before that, we had listened to the beautiful album ‘The Juliet Letters’ by Elvis Costello and the Brodsky Quartet and I loved the sound of the quartet and the freedom in music making of the quartet members. So Jeffrey figured I would like the CD called ‘Lament’ as well. He was wrong. I loved it. It swept me off my feet. The big sound of the quartet, yet fragile and expressive was breathtaking.
There was one piece that I particularly liked: ‘Five Pieces’ by Pawel Szymanski. The first movement starts with a rhythmical feature and ends up in drunken glissandi for the whole quartet. It sounds as if you would play a chord on a synthesizer and then use the ‘pitch’ button to glide to other notes. How could four human beings create that crazy sound and so together?!

The second movement is a strange melody traveling through the instruments and the third movement brings you in a world of flageolets and incomplete melodies that sound like forgotten memories of Bach. The fourth movement is a real challenge for a string quartet. Everybody plays the same incredibly difficult prelude, but one sixteenth apart from each other. As string quartets always try to play together, this devilish movement makes you feel as if you are chasing each other. The last movement is a cry by the first violin, but the other players in the quartet can’t seem to find him or her. They play painfully slow falling glissandi and the first violin keeps on calling in double stops. In the end, the violin gives up and the other members end in a fade out.


This wonderful piece made me want to become a string quartet player. Without this CD and Szymanski’s piece, I’m not sure which way my musical life would have turned out. That’s why I’m even more proud that Pawel decided to write us a piece for our #90seconds. Thank you, Pawel, for your inspiration and your beautiful music.

Maria-Paula Majoor

(watch the #90seconds videos here)
(read the other blogposts here)

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