Jürg Frey: Halftone Harmonics

Listen to this technique in context: streichquartett 2, played by Quatuor Bozzini.

During a summerlong immersion in Wandelweiser recordings—they appear on a house label, Edition Wandelweiser, and also on Another Timbre, Erstwhile, Gravity Wave, and other small labels—I became addicted to the string quartets of Jürg Frey, a Swiss composer and clarinettist. In much of Frey’s music, achingly Romantic harmonies drift to and fro, as if a Mahler Adagio were suspended in zero gravity. In the Second Quartet (1998-2000), bows barely touch the strings, and pitches are blurred by eccentric fingering. Minor-mode harmonies emerge, but they have a whispery, spectral character. . . . The Quatuor Bozzini has made rapt recordings of the quartets, for Edition Wandelweiser. — Alex Ross, “The Composers of Quiet,” The New Yorker

Read more about Jürg Frey.