The Squid's Ear Magazine

Frey, Jurg

Circles and Landscapes - works for solo piano played by Philip Thomas

Frey, Jurg: Circles and Landscapes - works for solo piano played by Philip Thomas (Another Timbre)

Five new or recent pieces from composer Jurg Frey, alongside his 1993 work "In Memoriam Cornelius Cardew", all performed by pianist Philip Thomas, presenting slowly unfolding compositions emphasizing the physical space and time within which sounds are situated.
 

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product information:

Personnel:



Jurg Frey-composer

Philip Thomas-piano


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Label: Another Timbre
Catalog ID: at91
Squidco Product Code: 21490

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2015
Country: UK
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold
Recorded at St. Paul's Hall, university of Huddersfield, UK, on August 4th and 5th, 2015 by Simon Reynell.

Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"78 minutes of wonderful piano music by Jurg Frey: five new or recent pieces together with 'In Memoriam Cornelius Cardew' from 1993. "Philip Thomas presses the keys with such resonating deliberation that I felt I was at the piano with him. There is not only vibrant life in this music, but maturity....[Frey] is beyond the need to prove something, or make a point. His music just is."-Debra Richards, Swissvibes



Philip Thomas on the music of Jürg Frey

"Jürg Frey the performer is inseparable from Jürg Frey, composer. To understand his music is to know that underlying each event, each phrase, each rest, each relationship, is the beating heart of a performing musician. Frey's sense of pitch is that of someone who knows pitch. That is, someone who knows what it is to make pitch sound, and to make sounds live and breathe, who knows how it feels for two sounds to collide in space and time, and who knows what it is for sounds to appear and then disappear, to be articulated in time. And to hear Frey make those sounds - to hear the clarinet both as an instrument communicating across centuries (how I would love to hear him perform Mozart's clarinet quintet) and as an entirely fresh sound, emerging from nothing, barely present yet imbued with a radiance that makes a nonsense of the reductionist label at times assigned to his music - is to recognise that his composed music is abundantly affirmative.

Like the music of his older friend, American composer Christian Wolff, his music is to be played and to be understood through playing. It is discovered only through the act of performance and through experiencing the sounds made alive. Unlike Wolff, however, whose unique performance strategies result in a strange, at times fragmented music, Frey's flexible treatment of older models, such as canons and chorales, is easily perceptible yet entirely fresh.

To those readers and listeners who know of Frey (born Switzerland, 1953) as part of the 'Wandelweiser' group of composers, and who consequently characterise his music as reductionist, concerned only with silence and minimal sounding events (possibly somewhat austere), the description of Frey's music above may come as something of a surprise. But, as with all groupings and labels, the story is far more muddied than the generalised perception. Frey has been associated with the Wandelweiser group - including founders Antoine Beuger and Burkhard Schlothauer, Eva Maria Houben, Carlo Inderhees, Radu Malfatti, Craig Shepard, Thomas Stiegler, Manfred Werder, Michael Pisaro, and many others, some who have come and gone, and a host of younger composers, many in their 20s and 30s - almost since its inception as a movement (founded in 1992, Frey joined the following year). His music is published by Edition Wandelweiser, which has also released a number of recordings of his music, and he plays with the Wandelweiser Composers Ensemble.

"His music shares with many of these composers an emphasis upon quiet, sometimes extremely quiet, sounds, is generally fairly slow moving, and embraces the totality of the sounding environment, whereby the physical space and time within which sounds are situated and between sounds is fundamental to the musical discourse. Shared influences might include John Cage, Christian Wolff, George Brecht and others within the Fluxus movement. Yet each of the composers listed above pursue their own compositional and aesthetic interests. Pisaro's recent work, for example, is characterised by textural multilayering, field recordings and noise. Werder's work navigates a route between a conceptual, poeticised text-based work, bordering on the non-event, and (live) sound installation. Jürg Frey's own work is diverse, including sound installations, works for electronics and electric instruments, and a number of scores for undetermined instrumentation. Some hcmf// regulars might recall his Un champ de tendresse parsemé d'adieux, premiered by the edges ensemble in 2011, comprising the sounds of falling dried leaves and very small stones and the faint whistling of the performers dispersed around the performing space. At the same time he has written some of the most harmonic and melodic music of all the Wandelweiser composers.

The works which feature in "hcmf// 2015" tend toward pitch-based compositions. There are exceptions, most notably the second string quartet, performed by its dedicatees the Bozzini Quartet. (To hear this live will be a rare treat for those of us who first encountered their recording of it, released in 2006, and were stunned by the extraordinary sonority and intimate physicality of the music.) Often familiar tonal material hovers curiously between the states of being and progressing. But lest the music becomes too familiar, too 'understood', one can sometimes sense the composer consciously rubbing out what's gone before, through repetition or silence, or change, so that what was heard becomes forgotten.

Recent works foreground sound over silence, in contrast to earlier works. At the same time one might argue that what we hear is not 'speaking' but merely being; that the music tends toward silence through its 'not-speaking'. It is in no hurry to go anywhere nor say anything. In Frey's own words: 'Silence can also be present in the sounds. In order to have silence in sounds, one must let go of everything which gets in the way of this silence. This sound is a sound without the idea of what it can mean or how it should be used.' Frey's music calls upon both listener and performer to surrender expectations, to give themselves to the present whilst allowing what was to colour what is. All that is known is what is experienced - sound and silence, both physical, both performed, both temporary, emergent and relational, alive."-Philip Thomas



This album has been reviewed on our magazine:

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Artist Biographies

"Jürg Frey was born in 1953 in Aarau, Switzerland. Following his musical education at the Concervatoire de Musique de Genève, he turned to a career as a clarinetist, but his activities as composer soon came to the foreground. Frey developed his own language as a composer and sound artist with the creation of wide, quiet sound spaces. His work is marked by an elementary non-extravagence of sound, a sensibilty for the qualities of the material, and precision of compositional approach. His compositions sometimes bypass instrumentation and duration altogether and touch on aspects of sound art. He has worked with compositional series, as well as with language and text. Some of these activities appear in small editions or as artist's books as individual items and small editions (Edition Howeg, Zurich; weiss kunstbewegung, Berlin; complice, Berlin). His music and recordings are published by Edition Wandelweiser. Frey has been invited to workshops as visiting composer and for composer portraits at the Universität der Künste Berlin, the Universität Dortmund and several times at Northwestern University and CalArts. Some of the other places his work has developed are the concerts at the Kunstraum Düsseldorf, the Wandelweiser-in-Residence-Veranstaltungen in Vienna, the Ny music concerts in Boras (Sweden), the cooperation with Cologne pianist John McAlpine, the Bozzini Quartet (Montréal), QO-2 (Bruxelles), Die Maulwerker, incidental music, as well as the regular stays in Berlin (where during the last years many of his compositions were premiered). Frey is a member of the Wandelweiser Komponisten Ensemble which has presented concerts for more than 15 years in Europe, North America and Japan. Frey also organizes the concert series moments musicaux aarau as a forum for contemporary music."

-Other Minds (http://www.otherminds.org/shtml/Frey.shtml)
2/28/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Philip Thomas (b.1972, North Devon) specialises in performing new and experimental music, including both notated and improvised music. He places much emphasis on each concert being a unique event, designing imaginative programmes that provoke and suggest connections.

He is particularly drawn to the experimental music of John Cage, Morton Feldman and Christian Wolff, and composers who broadly work within a post-Cageian aesthetic. In recent years he has been particularly associated with the music of Christian Wolff, giving the world premiere of his Sailing By in 2014 and Small Preludes in 2009, the UK premiere of Long Piano (Peace March 11), having co-edited and contributed to the first major study of Wolff's music, Changing the System: the Music of Christian Wolff, published by Ashgate Publications in 2010, and currently recording all of Wolff's solo piano music for sub rosa. He is an experienced performer of John Cage's music, having performed the Concert for piano and orchestra with both Apartment House and the Merce Cunningham Dance Company as well as most of the solo piano and prepared piano music, including a unique 12-hour performance of Electronic Music for piano

He has commissioned new works from a number of British composers whose ideas, language and aesthetic have been informed in some ways by the aforementioned American composers, such as Stephen Chase, Laurence Crane, Richard Emsley, Christopher Fox, Bryn Harrison, John Lely, Tim Parkinson, Michael Parsons, and James Saunders.

In recent years Philip has pursued a passion for freely improvised music, after significant encounters with the music of AMM and Sheffield-based musicians Martin Archer, Mick Beck and John Jasnoch. He has worked with improvisers in a variety of contexts and recently devised a programme of composed music by musicians more normally known as improvisers as well as others who have been influenced by improvisation in some form. This led to a CD release, Comprovisation, which featured newly commissioned works by Mick Beck, Chris Burn and Simon H Fell. Other CD releases include music by Martin Arnold, Laurence Crane, Christopher Fox, Jürg Frey, Bryn Harrison, Tim Parkinson, Michael Pisaro, James Saunders, Christian Wolff, as well as with improvisers Chris Burn and Simon H Fell.

Philip is a regular pianist with leading experimental music group Apartment House, with whom he has performed in festivals across the UK and Europe. He has also performed with the Quatuor Bozzini, and in duos with Mark Knoop, Ian Pace and John Tilbury (piano duet and two pianos) and James Saunders (electronics).

In 1998 Philip was awarded a PhD from Sheffield University in the performance practice of contemporary piano music. Between 2000 and 2005, he was Head of the Sheffield Music School whilst pursuing an active performing and teaching career. He joined the staff team at the University of Huddersfield in 2005, and became Professor of Performance in 2015. Philip is one of the Directors of CeReNeM, the University's Centre for Research in New Music. He continues to live in Sheffield, where he premieres the majority of his programmes, with his wife Tiffany and children Naomi and Jack."

-Philip Thomas Website (http://www.philip-thomas.co.uk/biog.html)
2/28/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.


Track Listing:



1. In Memoriam Cornelius Cardew 2:31

2. Circular Music No.5 13:25

3. Extended Circular Music No.2 4:43

4. Pianist, Alone (2) 29:48

5. Miniature In Five Parts 5:31

6. Extended Circular Music No.9 21:36

Related Categories of Interest:


Compositional Forms
Piano & Keyboards
Solo Artist Recordings
New in Compositional Music
Staff Picks & Recommended Items

Search for other titles on the label:
Another Timbre.


Recommended & Related Releases:
Frey, Jurg / Reinier van Houdt
Lieues d'Ombres (3CDs)
(elsewhere)
Translating to League of Shadows, Swiss composer Jürg Frey's sublime twilight compositions for solo piano are performed by Dutch pianist Reinier van Houdt, presenting seven of Frey's works written from 1984-2018, including one previously unreleased composition, in all 20 movements spread over 3 CDs ranging in time from 1:47 to 40:34, a significant addition to both musician's oeuvres.
Frey, Jurg / Apartment House
String Trio
(Another Timbre)
Reworking a piece for string trio originally commissioned by the Concertgebouw Brugge and premiered by the Goeyvaerts Trio as part of the 2019 SLOW Festival, this new version expands on the original composition to bring elegant calmness and clarity to the work, performed by UK's Apartment House members Mira Benjamin on violin, Bridget Carey on viola and Anton Lukoszevieze on cello.
Frey, Jurg / Keiko Shichijo
Les Signes Passagers
(elsewhere)
Written by Jurg Frey in 2021 and commissioned by Amsterdam-based pianist Keiko Shichijo, this solo work using the unique audio characteristics of the fortepiano was premiered by Shichijo in 2022 at the Concertgebouw Brugge during the SLOW Festival and performed again at November Music 2022, this recording captured at Concertgebouw Brugge in the presence of the composer.
Iddon, Martin
Naiads
(Another Timbre)
With titles taken from different kinds of water nymphs in Greek mythology, composer Mark Iddon's four-part work is a hauntingly beautiful set of compositions of seeming siren calls and rich percussion, realized by an octet configuration of the UK ensemble Apartment House, with two pianists (Philip Thomas and Mark Knoop), three strings, clarinet, flute and percussion.
Verlaak, Maya
All English Music is Greensleeves
(Another Timbre)
Five fascinating works by the Belgian composer Maya Verlaak, realized by Apartment House and soloists Sarah Saviet & Mark Knoop, experimental compositions including a work of personal reflection based on "Alouette"; a conceptual game piece; a composition layering pre-recorded segments of "Greensleaves"; and two interactive acoustic & computer pieces.
Fox, Chistopher
Works For Piano, Philip Thomas piano
(Hat [now] ART)
Four large and distinctive works by composer Christopher Fox performed by pianist Philip Thomas, who also writes the liner notes about the works, revealing and explaining the compositional elements, piano preparations, and physical requirements placed on the performer.
Frey, Jurg
Fields, Traces, Clouds
(Edition Wandelweiser Records)
Three compositions from clarinetist and Wandelweiser peer Jurg Frey, performed by Luke Martin on electric guitar, Laura Cetilia on cello, J.P.A. Falzone on piano & vibraphone, Morgan Evans-Weiler on violin, and Jurg Frey himself on clarinet; beautifully reflective music indicating Frey's working method and his relationship with wide, quiet sound spaces.
Feldman, Morton (Philip Thomas)
Piano [5 CD BOX SET]
(Another Timbre)
Containing the majority of minimalist composer Morton Feldman's compositions for solo piano, 3 CDs of short works and 2 for the magnificent "For Bunita Marcus" and "Triadic Memories", performed by one of the foremost interpreters of Feldman's work, Philip Thomas, and presented in a sturdy 5-CD box set with a 52 page booklet of notes from the performer and artwork.
Apartment House
Perform Olivier Messiaen and Linda Catlin Smith
(Another Timbre)
The UK ensemble Apartment House performs two works--Olivier Messiaen's "Quatuor pour la fin du Temps" in 6 movements; and Linda Catlin Smith's "Among the Tarnished Stars"--taking a fresh modern approach to the Messiaen, drawing out its experimental character, and the sense of drama and intricate gradations of sonority in Smith's rich and mysterious work.
Schlothauer, Burkhard
Harmonies And Structures
(Edition Wandelweiser Records)
When the Zeitkratzer Ensemble was asked to perform a late ensemble work by John Cage, director Reinhold Friedl turned to composer Burkhard Schlothauer, who reworked one of Cage's Number Pieces to create this rich piece using Cage's methods; plus a composition for the dance piece "Bewegte Bauhausbilder"; and an octet commissioned for the Klangzeit-Festival Time Is On My Side.
Smith, Linda Catlin
Wanderer
(Another Timbre)
Eight sophisticated chamber pieces composed by Linda Catlin Smith and realized by the Canadian Apartment House ensemble, including a solo piano performed by Philip Thomas, a piano duo with Thomas and Mark Knoop, and works for percussion & cello, 2 quintet pieces for strings, percussion and winds, and two 7-piece conducted works with two percussionists, strings and brass.
Miller, Cassandra
O Zomer!
(Another Timbre)
Two ensemble works and two solo pieces by Christian Wolff's favourite contemporary composer, Cassandra Miller, who is blazing a very personal trail through the experimental music world, with brilliant performances by Apartment House, Mira Benjamin, Philip Thomas, and Charles Curtis with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Ilan Volkov.
Nono, Luigi / Jurg Frey
Works For Violin Duos
(Edition Wandelweiser Records)
Two works from two distinctive composers from different periods--Jurg Frey and Luigi Nono--both for two violins, Frey using the two violins in parallel to emphasize their distinction; Nono using powerful gestures of divergence and contrast in a dream-like duo.
Cage . Pisaro . Frey . Beuger
Accordion Music [2 CDs]
(Edition Wandelweiser Records)
Four works interpreted for accordion performed by Edwin Alexander Buchhol, including John Cage's "Cheap Imitation"; Michael Pisaro-Liu's "Here (2)"; Jurg Frey's "Sam Lazaro Bros." and Antoine Beuger's "die geschichte des sandkorns".
Frey, Beuger / Duo Contour
Duos
(Edition Wandelweiser Records)
The duo Contour of Stephen Altoff (trumpet) & Lee Forrest Ferguson (percussion) perform Antoine Beuger's "dedekind duos" dedicated to mathematician Julius Wilhelm Richard Dedekind; and Jurg Frey's "22 Sachelchen" or "small things", 22 focused miniature compositions.
Beuger, Antoine
Two . Too (For Erwin-Josef Speckmann) [2 CDs]
(Edition Wandelweiser Records)
Jurg Frey on clarinet and Irene Kurka on soprano vocals perform Wandelweiser composer Antoine Beuger's extended composition "Two"; then the duo of Rhodri Davies on harp and Ko Ishikawa on sho are layered on the first recording, creating a refreshingly new take on the piece.
Wolff, Christian / Wandelweiser Komponisten Ensemble
Stones
(Edition Wandelweiser Records)
Antoine Beuger, Burkhard Schlothauer, Chico Mello, Jurg Frey, Kunsu Shim, Michael Pisaro-Liu, and Thomas Stiegler participate in this realization of Christian Wolff's compositions to make sounds or draw sounds out of stones, alone or with other surfaces, acoustically or amplified.
Frey, Jurg
Grizzana and other pieces 2009-2014 [2 CDs]
(Another Timbre)
The Ensemble Grizzana (Ryoko Akama, Mira Benjamin, Richard Craig, Emma Richards, Philip Thomas and Seth Woods) performs a series of delicate and beautiful chamber pieces by Swiss composer and clarinetist Jurg Frey, who also performs on clarinet.
Feldman, Morton played by John Tilbury & Philip Thomas
Two Pianos And Other Pieces 1953-1969 [2 CDs]
(Another Timbre)
"Two Pianos" is one of Morton Feldman's most experimental and radical works, performed here by John Tilbury & Philip Thomas; plus lesser known works including 'Piece for Four Pianos', 'Between Categories', 'False Relationships and the Extended Ending' and 'Two Pieces for Three Pianos'.
Other Recommended Releases:
Frey, Jurg / Reinier van Houdt
Lieues d'Ombres (3CDs)
(elsewhere)
Translating to League of Shadows, Swiss composer Jürg Frey's sublime twilight compositions for solo piano are performed by Dutch pianist Reinier van Houdt, presenting seven of Frey's works written from 1984-2018, including one previously unreleased composition, in all 20 movements spread over 3 CDs ranging in time from 1:47 to 40:34, a significant addition to both musician's oeuvres.
Frey, Jurg / Quatuor Bozzini / Konus Quartett
Continuite, Fragilite, Resonance
(elsewhere)
Continuity, Fragility, Resonance is an extended compositions by Jürg Frey orchestrated for an octet of a string quartet and a saxophone quartet, here recorded after the 2021 premier of the work in a 2022 3-day recording session in Bern, Switzlerland in the presence of the composer at the Auditorium of Zentrum Paul Klee; gorgeous and delicate.
Frey, Jurg + Apartment House
Borderland Melodies
(Another Timbre)
Three chamber works in single and multiple movements by minimalist composer Jurg Frey, exploring time & duration, form & shape and a balance of material, performed by a core quartet from the UK ensemble Apartment House, orchestrated for clarinet and bass clarinet, violin and cello, the final work adding piano, viola and percussion in a septet reworking of a 2014 composition.
Philippakopoulos, Anastassis / Jurg Frey
Wind And Light
(elsewhere)
Wandelweiser composer and pianist Anastassis Philippakopoulos presents four solo clarinet pieces performed by fellow Wandelweiser member, Swiss composer and clarinetist Jürg Frey, and three solo piano pieces performed by himself, in a beautiful album of delicately minimal and fragile music inspired by and reflecting the natural landscape of Greece.
Cage, John
Winter Music
(Another Timbre)
John Cage's 1957 composition in a visceral realisation for four pianos, played by John Tilbury, Philip Thomas, Mark Knoop and Catherine Laws, using chance procedures to assign each of the pianist's five of the twenty pages of the score, the pianists agreeing on an overall duration of 40 minutes and preparing their parts independently, performed without rehearsal.
Frey, Jurg
Collection Gustave Roud [2 CDs]
(Another Timbre)
A double CD with five beautiful pieces that engage with the work of the extraordinary French-Swiss poet Gustave Roud, with performers including Dante Boon, Stefan Thut, Andrew McIntosh and Jurg Frey himself, 10 compositions that Frey wrote in the manner that Roud would, roaming with a sketchbook and developing the pieces based on impressions of his surroundings.
Smith, Linda Catlin
Drifter [2 CDs]
(Another Timbre)
Ten pieces dating from 1995 to 2015 from Canadian composer Linda Catlin Smith, performed by Quatuor Bozzini and Apartment House, the first in Another Timbre's Canadian Composer series, a 2-CD release focusing on Smith's "equal and simultaneous drive toward abstraction and lyricism" in slowly developing, lush and sophisticated compositions.



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