lieues d’ombres

Reinier van Houdt - Jürg Frey

Swiss composer Jürg Frey and Dutch pianist/composer Reinier van Houdt are reunited on this triple CD, ‘lieues d’ombres’, after their successful collaboration on ‘l’air, l’instant – deux pianos’ (elsewhere 014), during which the two built a close rapport.

‘lieues d’ombres’ contains seven of Frey’s solo piano works, written from 1984 – 2018, including one previously unreleased work, ‘Three Piano Pieces’. All seven pieces were recorded by Micha de Kanter at The Muziekcentrum van de Omroep (MCO) in Hilversum over three days in July 2021, with the presence of the composer. The order of the tracks on the three discs was determined by Frey.

As a pianist with a profound affinity with Frey’s music, van Houdt masterfully brings out the nuances hidden in Frey’s scores with a delicate, careful touch as light as air, rendering the transparent yet compelling beauty of each piece with an exquisite balance of warmth and clarity.

“It’s marvellous, a wonderful reading of the scores that so clearly realizes my intentions. And I feel so strongly how my music is connected with my being. I’m touched by how much I hear, after listening so many times to the recordings, the composer’s mind working. It’s interesting, because when I write music, I think I’m mainly focused on practical work: time, movement, sound and timbre…

And I discover again and again fascinating things when Reinier is playing: his voicing in the chords is fabulous, and the energies that are so well balanced between “let the sound just go” and “the mind is working”. It is a real challenge to bring both together – and to do this in such a quiet and delicate volume makes the interpretation reach a great level and create a unique atmosphere.” — Jürg Frey (from an email correspondence during the editing process)

During the recording sessions, van Houdt played these pieces with Frey’s drawings in mind, and two of the drawings are featured on the album cover.

“Frey’s music is drawn from a particular silence. It has dimensions, borders, depths — architecture. It begins before the music starts and remains after it ends. It seems to come from the air itself.

In Frey’s music, presence is coupled with absence. There is surface, but it reveals depths. Brightness is outlined by shadow. Movement is restrained by stillness. Boldness is tempered by humility.

This recording of piano works, mostly from the last fifteen years, couples Frey’s distinct sensibility with the equally distinct world of Reinier van Houdt. […] Van Houdt works with the density of the situation: those “other” things that we hear while playing music, both in the environment and in our heads.” — Michael Pisaro-Liu (from the liner notes)


compositions by Jürg Frey

Reinier van Houdt - piano

recorded by Micha de Kanter at The Muziekcentrum van de Omroep (MCO) in Hilversum (NL) on 16, 17, 18 July 2021

mixed by Micha de Kanter
mastered by Taku Unami
liner notes by Michael Pisaro-Liu
cover drawings by Jürg Frey
design by Yuko Zama
produced by Yuko Zama

​special thanks to the SENA Muziekproductiefonds for their financial support

Jürg Frey's music is published by Edition Wandelweiser.