It is incredible how multiple attempts to analytically justify a given piece of music can produce the opposite effect, perplexing the listener in the face of a very plain message, communicated by the music itself to every sensible individual. This happens quite frequently when one tries to verbally delimit compositions of the Wandelweiser persuasion, of which Jürg Frey is a renowned representative.
However, in the midst of an admirable quest for catching the butterflies of intangibleness during an interview with Yuko Zama, founder of the Elsewhere label, the composer himself scatters around a few clues to the interpretation of Continuité, Fragilité, Résonance. In one of those moments, Frey says that it is possible, in this work, to perceive the fragility of continuity, precisely because — in the first place — a true concept of continuity is not really being asserted. That continuity — according to French philosopher Gaston Bachelard, to whom Frey refers — is provided by the audience's emotional resonance.
Utterly deprived of substantial outcomes, we could reason about some fascinating possibilities for hours. What is left for those who barely tolerate redundancy is to hear the physical resonance for themselves, in this case delivered by the string and saxophone quartets for which the score was designed: respectively, Quatuor Bozzini (Clemens Merkel, Alissa Cheung, Stéphanie and Isabelle Bozzini), and Konus Quartett (Fabio Oehrli, Jonas Tschanz, Christian Kobi and Stefan Rolli).
By integrating all of the suggestions he developed, Frey did an outstanding job of bringing the paired ensembles to an optimal level of timbral and contrapuntal integration. The underlying objective of this kind of composition, as it seems, is to achieve an equilibrium of shapes and more or less conspicuous harmonic motions within an overall state of stillness, the inner as well as the external. Due to the pristine grace of specific chordal overlays and the vibrational effectiveness of some clusters, selected passages of this 51-minute opus caused this writer's head to rise, and ears to perk up. The sounds murmur to the unclouded ear the answers that an overly intellectual mind might not find, much less process.
Ultimately, this is gorgeous sonic matter that adjusts to any environment and listening setting. It is a testament to the time and energy that both the composer and the interpreters invested in it. Simply accept it as a gift, without even considering its conceptual dressing.
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