Sunday, March 28, 2010

Torelli: Complete works for 1, 2, 4 trumpets and orchestra (Orchestra della Cappella Musicale di San Petronio / Sergio Vartolo)

托賴里(1658-1709)是巴洛克中期的義大利作曲家,出生於維羅納(Verona),不過音樂家生涯主要是在波隆那(Bologna)。他因為小提琴上的技巧被受肯定而得到Accademia Filharmonica會員。他在San Petronius教堂下的Cappella Musicale樂團擔任小提琴手,不過樂團因財務困難解散之後,他在幾年內遊走德國和維也納,一度是布蘭登堡-安斯巴赫藩侯(Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach)宮廷樂團的指揮。之後San Petronius教堂的Cappella Musicale樂團重新成立,他便又回到Bologna擔任其樂團的第一小提琴手,一直到他過逝。
Torelli在巴洛克音樂上,也是整個音樂史上的貢獻為對大協奏曲獨奏協奏曲形式的發展。不同於柯賴里(Corelli)的多樂章大協奏曲形式,Torelli所寫的協奏曲形式多為簡單的  快-慢-快 三樂章形式,也是日後西洋古典樂的主流協奏曲形式。在合奏協奏曲裡,他也指名其中的一個小提琴聲部由單一小提琴所演奏,慢慢演變為日後韋瓦第善長寫的小提琴獨奏協奏曲。這錄音收集了Torelli寫給小號,就音樂學家公認為真實的全部作品。雖然Torelli為優秀的小提琴家,但他在Bologna的時候,可能因為得知一位出眾的小號家Giovanni Pellegrino Brandi的存在而寫了大約三十首小號協奏曲。這些協奏曲都沒有被正式出版,只留有手稿,很有可能因為當初表演的場合是在教堂的彌撒之前或是什麼慶典場合的開頭曲。這些協奏曲都不長,每一首總長都不超過八分鐘。譜上的曲名,sinfonia,sonata,和concerto不一,不過當時來講,二者的分別不大,常常通用。

這張3CD集錄有30首,分別有寫給一支,兩支,還有四支小號的協奏曲。錄的樂團為Orchestra della Cappella Musicale San Petronio,正是當初幾世紀前Torelli擔任樂手的同樂團。而錄音的地方,也同是San Petronius教堂,多半是這些曲子們當時表演的地方。因為San Petronius教堂的空間非常大,混響時間(Reverberation Time)有長達12秒!而且,為了呈現出當時表演時原本面貌,音樂家所站的位子也都是有考究的。有些協奏曲,不同聲部的音樂相隔至少有18公尺之多。這個距離,再加上非常長的混響時間,讓音樂家們常在半秒之後,還可聽到另一端音樂家所拉出的聲音。這也使指揮家Sergio Vartolo的工作相當頭痛。
Sergio Vartolo不僅是為音樂學家,也是一位頗有名氣的大鍵琴師,錄有多張早期義大利巴洛克作曲家的鍵盤曲子(Frescobaldi, Trabaci, Rossi等)。不過,他鍵盤詮釋方式有點老套,我並不是很喜歡。但他在這張3CD集裡的指揮,倒還相當不錯。跟一些比較熱血的新一代義大利音樂家相比,他採用的速度比較穩健,但在教堂這種場合所寫的華麗但莊嚴的音樂,他的詮釋我倒蠻欣賞的。
Giuseppe Torelli (1658-1709) was a composer born in Verona but ended up in Bologna, where he was admitted to the Accademia Filharmonica because of being an outstanding violinist. Torelli made major contributions in developing the concerto form, both concerto grosso and solo concerto.  Different from the Corellian model of the concerto grosso, Torelli's concerti grossi follow a simple fast-slow-fast three-movement structure. Besides the Christmas Concerto Op.8-6, Torelli's posthumous fame rests on the many trumpet concertos he composed.  He was one of the most prolific composers of the trumpet concerto genre, if not the most prolific.  It is said that he became interested in the trumpet when he was aware of the presence of an excellent Bolognese trumpeter.  
This present recording contains the supposed complete authentic works for 1, 2, and 4 trumpets written by Torelli.  These concertos were never published by only existed in manuscript form, partly because their functions were used as openings to celebrations or Masses, and the trumpet certainly gave a more pompous feel.  This also means that these concertos were all fairly short, none longer than 8 minutes.  Although different terms of sinfonie, sonata and concerto are used here, they were practically interchangeable during his time. 
This 3-CD set contains 30 whopping concertos, a lot of trumpet concertos in D for all that matter!  The trumpets shine out in the fast movements, while many slow movements have a short fast interlude where you hear the violin perform a virtuosic passage.  Torelli was an accomplished violinist, and he wanted his instrument to take the spotlight alongside the trumpet.  
The concertos are performed by the Orchestra della Cappella Musicale San Petronio, orchestra of the same name that Torelli played in centuries back.  It is directed by Sergio Vartolo, established music scholar and harpsichord who has recorded many early Italian composers' keyboard works, like Frescobaldi, Trabaci, and Rossi, just to name a few.  I haven't really enjoyed his keyboard interpretations, but his direction of the orchestra is solid.  He doesn't drive the music as strong as his other compatriots, like say Fabio Biondi, but the occasion asks for a more solemn feel, and in my opinion, his approach works.   
The natural trumpet is an extremely hard instrument to master, and the four trumpeters here perform heroically.  To add further complication, the recording was made in the San Petronio basilica, where Torelli intended the music to be performed.  The basilica has a notorious reverberation time of 12 seconds, long enough to create enough nightmares for even the most skilled musician.  The booklet also carefully details the placement of the players for each concerto to really historically recreate the performance, as well as documenting the challenges of playing the music perfectly on time (as delays up to a half second between different groups of musicians were common).  It's interesting to point out that after the final cadence, you can clearly hear the sound lingering in the basilica, which the recording engineers prematurely chop off.  
My only qualm about the recording is the tendency of saturation of the sound when the trumpets go full blast.  Looks like the recording engineers really missed something here.  With such a short-coming, the recording prevents itself from truly becoming enjoyable.  Otherwise, this recording project is commendable on many other levels.

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