05 Quatuor BozzeniJürg Frey – String Quartet No.4
Quatuor Bozzini
Quatuor Bozzini CQB 2432 (quatuorbozzini.ca/en)

About his String Quartet No.4 (2021), Swiss composer Jürg Frey (b.1953) laconically observed, “My music is slow, sometimes static, often delicately shifting between standstill and movement. And yet, after more than an hour, this music has arrived at another place.” Music critic Alex Ross aptly compared Frey’s music to a “Mahler Adagio suspended in zero gravity.”

One of Canada’s leading string quartets, Bozzini specializes in contemporary music with an impressive 36 releases to date. Fostering a long and deep working relationship with Frey, their premiere recording of his sprawling five-movement Quartet No.4 is a remarkably poised musical testament to their collaboration. Beginning with whisps of sound the Bozzini morphs into a virtual, though still totally acoustic, orchestra. From pianissimo sustained string chords ghostly instrumental resemblances emerge; they sound like a French horn, harmonica, woodwinds, bandoneon and a soft pipe organ in succession. In Frey’s expansive soundscapes, timbral colour takes centre stage in the sonic field.

“… little happens – it is this atmosphere from which my music emerges and to which it always returns,” explains the composer. Listeners can choose to lay back and relax in Frey’s sound world observing the timbral transformations, the attractive chord and shifting mood changes. But then – just as we were enjoying the slowly scuttling clouds on a sunny Swiss summer day – those mysterious insistent pulsed cello pizzicati at the very end emerge to remind us of … what? … the passage of time?

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