This CD reflects 20 years of companionship. Since 1999, when the Swiss Chamber Concerts were created, I have commissioned eight new works from Xavier Dayer, ranging from solo to camerata. Five of them, with evocative titles, are presented here: Solus cum solo / Come heavy sleep / De Umbris (II) / Nocturne / Mémoire, cercles. Listening to them immediately plunges us into a world of sound that gradually weaves the tantalising tapestry of a cathedral between light and shadow, as if suspended and unchanging in a constantly renewed space.
The listener is gradually captivated by the slow and organic growth of sonorous arborescence, the explosive energy of which is deployed between night and dream. In this labyrinth, formed of as many fixed points as vanishing lines and enhanced by quarter-tone harmonies, there are bursts – sometimes gushing from the depths of the Renaissance – that create deep resonance, irrigating our memory with wide grooves. They converge towards a limpid force: that of the quest for a powerful musical identity whose spirituality appears as singular as it is authentic.
Xavier Dayer was born in 1972 in Geneva, where he would later study composition with Eric Gaudibert. He later went on to study classical guitar with Matthias Spaeter at the Fribourg Conservatoire. In 1996 he extended his training under Heinz Holliger, Tristan Murail and Brian Ferneyhough as a student of the IRCAM course in composition.
His rise to prominence followed a portrait concert in 1998 at the Archipel Festival in Geneva performed by the Ensemble Contrechamps. Within a few years, he had firmly established himself on the international scene and began to receive numerous commissions (IRCAM, Grand Théâtre de Genève, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, SWR-Vokalensemble Stuttgart, Swiss Chamber Concerts, Ensemble Contrechamps, Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart, Nieuw Ensemble Amsterdam, Lausanne Chamber Orchestra, Festival Archipel, Ensemble Lemanic, Festival Amadeus...). He has also been awarded several prizes and composition scholarships, including the Bügi-Willert Foundation Prize, bestowed by Heinz Holliger (2000) and the Edouard & Maurice Sandoz Foundation Prize, bestowed by Henri Dutilleux (2000).
In 1999 Dayer’s music began its long relationship with the writings of the poet Fernando Pessoa, starting at the Amadeus festival in Meinier (Geneva) when his chamber opera Le Marin, after Pessoa’s drama, was first performed.
In 2004 Dayer started to teach composition and theory at the University of the Arts in Bern (HKB), where he now directs the Master in Composition. He was a resident of Villa Medici in Rome for the year 2008/2009. In 2011 he became president of SUISA (Cooperative Society of Music Authors and Publishers) and in 2015 his opera Les contes de la lune vague après la pluie was premiered at the Opéra comique in Paris.
Two new operas were performed for the first time in 2017 at the Zurich Opera House and at the Konzert Theater Bern (KTB).
(Translated from French by Maxwell Crisp)
SWISS CHAMBER SOLOISTS
At the turn of the century, the idea of creating a chamber ensemble made up of the country’s best interpreters around a musical project on a Swiss scale came to be. Under the direction of Daniel Haefliger (Geneva), Jürg Dähler (Zurich) and Felix Renggli (Basel), the Swiss Chamber Soloists ensemble was founded in 1999, creating, for the first time, a common cycle between Basel, Geneva, Lugano and Zurich, the Swiss Chamber Concerts.
Thanks to innovative programmes and first class interpretations, the Swiss Chamber Soloists rapidly became an essential cultural member of the musical scene. Many a renowned musician has taken part in their concerts, such as Heinz Holliger, Thomas Zehetmair, Patricia Kopachinskaia, Ilya Gringolts, Lawrence Power, Christophe Coin, Julian Prégardien, Dénes Várion, Gilles Vonsattel, The Hilliard Ensemble and many others.
The Swiss Chamber Soloists’ repertoire extends from Baroque – on period instruments – to modern and contemporary music. The ensemble has first performed several world creations of works which, for the most part, were dedicated to it. Its implication in the music of today is reflected by the numerous executions of major composers such as Carter, Cerha, Dusapin, Ferneyhough, Kurtág, Ligeti, Yun, Zehnder, as well as the premieres of a great number of works by Swiss composers such as Blank, Dayer, Furrer-Münch, Gaudibert, Gubler, Haubensak, Hefti, Holliger, Käser, Kelterborn, Kessler, Kyburz, Lehmann, Moser, Rosenberger, Roth, Schnyder, Skrzypczak, Tognetti, Wyttenbach, Vassena or Zimmerlin. From the very start, the Swiss Chamber Soloists have given concerts throughout Europe, Asia and Australia. Their excellent reputation is confirmed by countless positive reviews and radio or CD recordings.
The federal structure of the Swiss Chamber Concerts made it possible to finance the composition, creation and concert production of all the works on this CD. We would like to thank the Federal Office of Culture, Pro Helvetia, the public institutions in Geneva, Basel, Zurich and Lugano as well as private organisations throughout Switzerland for their generous support over the years. Our special thanks go to all the musicians who participated in this recording for their talent and personal involvement as well as to the Association of Friends of Swiss Chamber Concerts Geneva and the Förderkreis Swiss Chamber Concerts Zürich.
Heinz Holliger, oboe
Felix Renggli, flute
Irene Abrigo, violin
Daria Zappa, violin
Jürg Dähler, viola
Daniel Haefliger, cello