Thursday, July 29, 2010

Porpora: Sinfonie da Camera Op.2 (Artifizii Musicali)

Nicola Porpora (1686-1768) 是巴洛克晚期的義大利作曲家。他在世的時候,除了是一位才華出眾的聲樂作曲家,還是一位相當有名氣的聲樂老師。他教出的學生裡,最有名的,當屬閹人歌手Caffarelli和Farinelli(其故事在1994被拍成比利時電影「絕代豔姬」(Farinelli)) 以及「交響曲之父」海頓。

Porpora生於拿坡里(Naples),與之前寫過的Francesco Durante基本上是同輩。因為父親從事書商,家境良好,使他有辦法就讀城裡的Conservatorio dei Poveri di Gesù Cristo音樂院。1708,他終於憑著歌劇Agrippina成功地在音樂圈裡嶄露頭角。1715年開始,他在另一間音樂院Conservatorio di San Onofrio任教,也私底下開班授徒。Porpora是一位嚴謹的聲樂老師,他對每個小細節的要求,以及對於一切技巧的掌握,使得他的聲樂教法,都被學生們繼續延用,形成重要的傳統。

大史卡拉第(Alessandro Scarlatti)從拿坡里離去,讓Porpora表現的機會更多。這段期間,他的歌劇在義大利各地廣受好評,而且許多歌劇還是由他的學生Farinelli這個聲樂巨星所表演,更是票房保證。這一連串的成功演出,使Porpora嘗試到其他的地方發展,像是德國和奧地利,只是結果都令人失望。這使得他在1726-1733年間,回到了義大利,並在威尼斯任教和創作。在這兒,他的歌劇作品又受到觀眾的喜愛。



Porpora的晚年可是過得非常窮愁潦倒,連三餐溫飽都是困難。他過逝的時候,甚至是拿坡里 的音樂圈同僚自掏腰包,籌出錢為他辦喪禮和紀念音樂會。一代大師在世的時候,沒真的受到重用,而下場竟是如此悲慘!

Porpora以聲樂作品見長,因此他所寫的純器樂曲並不多。這部作品二的室內交響曲,是他在倫敦時所寫的,並獻給威爾斯王子Frederic。這些室內交響曲,說穿了,就是三重奏鳴曲,不過再版中,Porpora指示是可以增加長笛和雙簧管等木管樂器,達到編制上的變化。這些奏鳴曲,是晚期巴洛克的大眾風格,之前的「教堂奏鳴曲(sonata da chiesa)」和「室內奏鳴曲(sonata da camera)」 的界線已經模糊了,奏鳴曲的樂章裡有小賦格的對位,但也有舞曲風的樂章。熟悉音樂趨勢的Porpora,想必在英國時期,也是想寫出可以滿足世人胃口的音樂。


回歸音樂本身,Artifizii Musicale這個的室內樂團,之前沒有聽過他們。當時同時買了他們的兩張CD,今天在市面上好像早已絕版了。我猜這個樂團說不定都已經散掉了~~ 他們的演奏速度恰當,樂句處理有方向性,讓音樂感覺輕快但隨性。這使得在欣賞的時候,不會覺得無聊,但也不是較激動的拉法,時時刻刻都要你的注意,算是個令人心曠神怡的古樂器表演。

Nicola Porpora (1686-1768) was a late Italian Baroque composer, known for his vocal compositions.  He was also one of the most influential vocal instructors of his time,  where among his students were the celebrated castrato Farinelli and Caffarelli.  During his years in Vienna, he was also the musical instructor of Joseph Haydn.

Born in Naples, Porpora's father was a bookseller, whose family wealth allowed him to pursue music studies at the Conservatorio dei Poveri di Gesù Cristo.  His stage debut came in 1708 with his opera Agrippina.  In 1715, he started to teach at the Conservatorio di San Onofrio, in addition to giving private lessons.  His mastery and emphasis of the details of vocal technique were well-known such that a story goes that his pupil Caffarelli was singing the same vocal exercises for five years.  His method of pedagogy was used by generations of singers that followed, creating a tradition not unlike Lizst on the piano.

His success in the Baroque opera made him try his fortunes elsewhere, like in Germany and Austria.  However, those brief stints did not really lead anywhere, and he returned to Italy, where he found continued success in Venice.  In 1733, he was invited to London, where the anti-Handel Italian circle tried to stage operas to rival Handel's.  Despite great musicians and singers (Farinelli came to sing in London as well), they were unable to shake the dominance Handel had in the music scene, and in 1736, Porpora returned to Italy.

In the years to follow, he would travel between Venice and Naples, where he had to fulfill teaching jobs and also compose for the stage.    Later, he would find minor success in the German courts, briefly holding the post of kappelmeister to the court of Saxony and later going to Vienna.  Initially living off a comfortable annuity of 400 Thalers, this soon ended when Saxony was defeated by Prussia in the Seven Years War.  Porpora was forced to return back to his home country of Italy.

He briefly held simultaneously two teaching posts at two conservatories.  However, after he resigned from both jobs,  Porpora's last years were spent in extreme poverty, where he had trouble evening putting food on the table.  Many times his hunger forced him out of his house to seek dinner elsewhere.  He died of pleurisy and his funeral was paid for by musicians of the Naples community.

This CD collects his six Sinfonie da Camera of Op.2 while he was in London.  Granted that Porpora was not really an instrumental composer, this CD comes out as pretty rare, in fact this is probably the only known existing recording out there.  These pieces are typical of the late cosmopolitan Baroque style, where the lines between chamber and church sonatas are blurred.  Many second movements here are fuguelike, whereas other movements employ dancelike rhythms.

Artificii Musicali is a period ensemble originally founded in Turin, but I suspect that it is now defunct, as some of the members have founded other ensembles.  They did not make alot of recordings, but I happen to own two of them, this one included.  They give a very solid performance, where the music is accentuated by dynamic contrast and/or phrasing.  The tempi are chosen and their playing makes it such that, to me, it is light but focused.  You won't dismiss it immediately as elevator music, but it won't require your total attention either.  In short, it's a pleasant rediscovery of a composer that has been neglected.

On one last note, in the third edition of these pieces, Porpora noted that woodwinds could be added to the instrumentation.   Artificii Musicali employ the flute, oboe, and bassoon in certain movements of certain sonatas, a change in variety that I certainly welcome.


GGs Adventure said...


有些CD,曲子,因為有些故事,對自己的意義特別不一樣. 就像你這張CD流浪大半圈又回來一樣.

Deadlockcp said...

ya.... 印象中,Farinelli當時在台灣的時候,春暉電影台 一直在播。那時沒有認真從頭到尾看過一遍,是事隔多年後來才有幸完整地看完。

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