String Quartet in C minor
Listening carefully to the music of the quartet, one involuntarily perceives intonations that were so characteristic of the music of the great 20th century master Dmitri Shostakovich: The energetically pressing themes in the first and third movements, the mischievous character and the permanent upheavals caused by bar changes in the second movement.
At the same time, Ulanowski's music is original and has many special features, which is why one can certainly speak of the composer's musical language as an independent one.
Behind the apparent simplicity and clarity of style lies a variety of compositional techniques. In addition to a deliberately tonal melody, contrapuntal and aleatoric techniques are also used.
In terms of playing technique, the music is not easy and requires great interpretive skill.
The quartet consists of three movements, which on the one hand form contrasts to each other and on the other hand complement each other, as if they wanted to emphasise the unity and simultaneous diversity of our environment.
The slow prelude evokes a calm atmosphere of pensiveness and leads to the exposition of the themes of the first movement: a boisterous, canonic main theme and a philosophical-melancholic secondary theme. Diminished and augmented intervals are extremely characteristic of both themes.
The large seventh leaps are particularly striking. In the development, both themes become intertwined, narrowed and expanded - in a kind of militant defence of their right to exist. Only in the recapitulation do they reconcile, come to rest and prepare the introduction to the second movement..
Like a bird wanting to get out of its cage, the tension of a musical spring charges. The chains shaken off, the soul finally celebrates its freedom by performing, as it were, a jocularly clumsy dance, the music of which becomes more and more pervasive towards the end of the movement.
The resolutely relentless theme of the third movement - the quartet's climax - penetrates like a natural continuation. Constantly changing, at times lamenting, at others pushing forward, the music reaches its climax, only to gradually fade away, subdued, as if submitting to the inexorable course of life. Uncertainly, wandering from minor to major, the coda ends - and thus reminds us of the fragility and fluctuations of existence.