Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Fasch: Trio Sonatas (Katharina Arfken et al)

Johann Friedrich Fasch (1688-1758) 直到今天,可能還是最不為人知的德國晚期巴洛克作曲家之一,名氣一直被巴哈,韓德爾,還有泰雷曼等大師所蓋過。家族裡的人都是神學家,因此早期音樂是自學的。12歲開始,他便Weissenfels和Leipzig(萊比錫)的宮廷,拜師音樂前輩Johann Philipp Krieger和Johann Kuhnau。

Fasch後來更在萊比錫念法律的時候,還創了自己的Collegium musicum樂團,和當時同在來比錫的Telemann所成立的Collegium musicum打對台。不過,Fasch和Telemann私交甚好,Telemann對於Fasch,既是良師,亦是益友。

Fasch在二十幾歲的時候,為了增長見聞,展開了一段音樂文化之旅,在德國各省之間遊走和觀摩。這段日子他所接觸最重要的音樂家,應該是在Darmstadt的Christoph Graupner。1722年,他接了Zerbst宮廷的Kappellmeister(音樂指揮),從此在這個不起眼的城過了他下半輩子。從幾封僅存的書信中得知Fasch在Zerbst並不完全開心,甚至覺得有點懷才不遇。Zerbst的宮廷的音樂家雖然素質不差,但畢竟不是當時音樂發展的重地,甚至有點被孤立的感覺。不過扯個題外話,Zerbst在歷史上重要的立足點,當是他們的公主Sophie Friederike Auguste,日後成為統治俄國的凱撒琳大帝(Catherine the Great)。

Fasch在音樂史上另一個小事蹟,是在他接Zerbst的音樂指揮的同年,也收到要請來擔任萊比錫的聖湯瑪斯大教堂(St. Thomas Church)的合唱團團長(Thomaskantor)一職。之前提到的Kuhnau過逝,而許多當時重要的作曲家都有收到通知,包括Telemann,Graupner,還有Bach。在Telemann和Graupner都婉拒的情形下,Fasch也決定暫時留在Zerbst。這個重要的職位,當然就落到了巴哈的手上,直到他過逝。



當初買這張CD是因為一時的好奇,認識一位之前沒聽過的巴洛克作曲家。又,當時深入大量接觸巴洛克音樂的同時,開始由原本的管絃樂作品,如協奏曲和組曲,漸漸轉向比較小型的室內樂,因此看到這音樂,就馬上買下來了。CD上的演奏家是之前都不認識,不過主要是由Katharina Arfken所帶領的。有趣的是,這張CD上其餘的音樂家都是在瑞士的Schola Cantorum Basiliensis古音樂學院就讀過的,而且現在都在那兒任教。而Katharina Arfken,更是有和Freiburg Baroque Orchestra合作過,錄過Vivaldi和Bach的協奏曲,是世界一流的巴洛克雙簧管音樂家。

表演風格上,Arfken走的路線比較溫柔,不像Freiburg Baroque Orchestra那種比較亢奮的拉法。我覺得,Arfken是想表現出這些曲子中雙簧管的優雅,像是一位氣質美少女,而不是豪放女。而Arfken的oboe音色處理上相當漂亮,而整個團隊的樂句和強弱的表現適中,是讓人聽了之後心情是非常舒服的。

Johann Friedrich Fasch (1688-1758) was a late German Baroque composer, who was overshadowed, even today, by the other contemporary greats of Bach, Handel, and Telemann.  Musically self-taught before 12, he then studied with Johann Philipp Krieger at Weissenfels and later with Johann Kuhnau in Leipzig.  When he continued to study law in Leipzig, he would found his own Collegium musicum to rival Telemann's in the same town.  Nevertheless, Telemann and Fasch would remain on good terms for the rest of their lives.  Fasch even regarded Telemann as a mentor in many respects.

Fasch would embark on trip in central and southern Germany to study music at a deeper level.  The most important person he would come in contact with was probably Christoph Graupner in Darmstadt.  In 1722, he would accept a position as the Kappellmeister of the court of Zerbst, where he remained for the rest of his life.  Zerbst's court had very competent musicians, but it was not by any means a musical center of Germany.  Fasch was known to express a minor frustration about his appointment in several correspondence letters.

Perhaps Fasch's biggest miss of his life was his refusal of the Thomaskantor position of Leipzig.  After Kuhnau passed away, invitations were sent to prominent musicians like Telemann, Graupner, and J.S. Bach about accepting this post.  Telemann and Graupner decided not to take the position, and Fasch later on also refused.  This position was given to Bach, where he would hold until his death in 1750.

Fasch wrote many vocal works, including cantatas, operas, psalms, etc.  Of the many instrumental works, he also wrote dozens of overtures, symphonies, concertos, and chamber sonatas.  The remarkable thing is that he never published any of his works during his lifetime.  Instead, he would trade copies of his music with other musicians from other courts.  It is through this method that his fame and reputation spread throughout the German-speaking countries at that time.  Manuscripts of his works are found in many libraries today, like Darmstadt and Dresden.   More importantly, Fasch represents a figure of the transition period between the Baroque era and the emerging Classical style, where his music reflects elements in both. 

The works on this recording are either quartets or trios written for two oboe parts.  The oboe was becoming a popular instrument in the German music courts at the time for having a human-like voice and a pleasant quality.  Fasch no doubt wrote many chamber works for this instrument, some which required some degree of difficulty.  In the quartets, the bassoon even leaves the bass continuo  and gets its own melodic line.  I suppose Fasch was also fond of the bassoon.

I bought this CD during a period when I really started to seriously seek out and collect other lesser-known Baroque composers.  It also came at a time where I started to prefer chamber music over orchestral music in the likes of concertos or suites.  The trio sonatas of Fasch caught my attention.  However, I must confess that I have not listened to them as much as I should have.

The musicians on this CD were previously unknown to me, but the group is led by Katharina Arfken, a Baroque oboist who has performed with the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra and other leading period ensembles.  Arfken studied at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, a Swiss music academy specializing in early music, where she now teaches at too.  Interestingly, the remaining musicians are also instructors at the same academy.  In fact, Harmonia Mundi made a series of recordings where there musicians were members of the academy.

Arfken having played with the likes of Freiburg Baroque Orchestra no doubt understands how to push the music and make things electrifying.  Here, she goes a softer and mellower approach, which brings out the "pleasantness" of the oboes that Fasch and his contemporaries were looking for.  The tempi are slower but adaquate, the intonation of the oboes is good and rich, and the phrasing is smooth but not dull.  In short, this is the Baroque wind chamber music one can enjoy oneself to.     


GGs Adventure said...

所以說我真的很適合去當崔稿的啊 :P

ps/那個House on the Rock我有更新照片(在MSN),懶得寫格文了啦

John Hendron said...

Arfken is the large-eye balled woman in the Freiburg Brandenburg recording. I get the sense she is a talented player.

Deadlockcp said...

Indeed. I had a friend who met her in person at some point. And no doubt, she is one of the top oboists.

Yeah, I saw the youtube video of her in the 2nd Brandenburg Concerto.

Deadlockcp said...


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