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«Continuité, fragilité, résonance»

Swiss composer Jürg Frey explains the essence of his new, most beautiful composition Continuité, fragilité, résonance he has written in 2020-2021 for octet, the double quartet of the Montréal-based string Quatuor Bozzini and the Bern-based saxophone Konus Quartett: «In movement, music has an energy that moves forward, in stillness, music sinks into the vertical depth of the moment. Music thrives on this dynamic contrast, and the special moments of stillness in composition have fascinated and touched composers time and again throughout the centuries. Music can also have its starting point in silence, yes, even more, this silence can be the foundation of an entire composition. In this sense, the new piece will work with sound movements and stillness, but always develop these phenomena out of silence and lead them back into silence, thus creating its own acoustic reality of concentration and deepening».

The two quartets have premiered other works of Frey’s in the past and have a deep understanding of the composer. This 51-minute composition was premiered by this ad-hoc octet in September 2021 and was recorded a year later, with the presence of Frey during a three-day recording session at the Auditorium of Zentrum Paul Klee in Bern in August 2022. The time that has passed between this composition’s premiere and its recording contributed to Frey, Quatuor Bozzini and Konus Quartett deep understanding of its sonic possibilities. Needless to add, the performance of the octet is masterful and excels with its mature and sensitive musicianship.

Frey also did the suggestive artwork, a watercolor drawing of eight straight lines, apparently made years before composing the new work but reflecting its clean, almost transparent sounds and the layered yet spacious interactions of the double quartets and capturing its profound contemplative spirit. The long lines that the two quartets play are elusive and stress the standstill, the almost abstract flow of time. Time becomes an elastic entity, time as continuity and time as fractured, vertical moments. Therefore the title of the composition: Continuité is the continuity in the timeline. Fragilité says this timeline is not a given fact. And with Résonance, time goes in different directions, also backward, or vertical. But the subtle shifts, the delicate and vulnerable timbres with its rare harmonic depths do not assert and proclaim continuity. They make it possible to experience continuity as something very fragile, transient as all living things.

Eyal Hareuveni

Quatuor Bozzini: Clemens Merkel (vio), Alissa Cheung (vio), Stéphanie Bozzini (viola), Isabelle Bozzini (c). Konus Quartett: Fabio Oehrli (ss), Jonas Tschanz (as), Christian Kobi (ts), Stefan Rolli (bs)

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