Thursday, July 22, 2010

William Williams: Trio Sonatas (Camerata Köln)

William Williams (1675? - 1701),出生年月不詳, 是英國的中期巴洛克作曲家。他的名字可謂俗到不行,又算是個早逝的音樂家。確定他是在1701年過逝,是因為文獻上有記載為他的遺孀和三位小孩舉辦的紀念音樂會。


Williams完整流傳至今的器樂曲不多,而這張CD足以收納全部的器樂曲。他的名氣遠遠不及Henry Purcell(他常被譽為英國有史以來最偉大的作曲家之一),但今天他能在音樂上勉強佔一席位,應該就是靠他這作品一的六首三重奏鳴曲(trio sonata)。三首奏鳴曲是給兩把小提琴和數字低音,而另外三首是給兩支直笛和數字低音。其中,又以最後一首,有著標題「模仿小鳥」("In imitation of birds")特別有創意。兩支直笛,不斷重覆地在模仿啾啾的鳥叫聲,從一開始就能聽出來了。

Williams的這些三重奏鳴曲,無疑受到當時的義大利奏鳴曲形式,不過他也保有英國音樂的傳統。如果不算巴洛克晚期到英國發展的外國作曲家韓德爾(德),Geminiani(義),Hellendaal(荷)等,那英國從文藝復興到巴洛克時期的音樂可說是自成一格。它的風格從早期的Consort Music開始,和聲中有許多不和諧的音,尤其在慢樂章裡非常顯著,而快樂章中,則是有許多對位似的手法。第一次接觸這個風格,可能是大學的時候第一次聽到Purcell的三重奏鳴曲,有一種熟悉的同時又陌生的感覺。至今,我一直覺得英國式的巴洛克器樂曲,給人一種比較陰沉的感覺。就算是快樂章,也不是像義大利的那種奔放,或是法國的華麗,而帶著一種莫名的感傷。只能說,這種內斂的風格,後來被義大利式的音樂慢慢取代,也是完全可以理解的。

這張CD上的音樂家Camerata Köln也是成立有30年的室內樂團,核心成員只有4-5位,大部份是表演巴洛克的室內樂曲子,不過必要時是可以擴充至十幾人來表演一些協奏曲。由於也是在科隆,因些Camerata Köln的一些成員甚至之前是Musica Antiqua Köln的成員。不過,跟科隆古樂團的狂野風格比起來,Camerata Köln的詮釋方法是比較安全,但紮實而流暢。這些William Williams的奏鳴曲,也是如此。

William Williams (1675? - 1701) was an English composer of the Middle Baroque era.  Nothing is really known about his life, except that it's almost certain that he died in 1701, because a memorial concert was held on behalf of his widow and 3 children.  His recognition lies solely on the set of six op.1 trio sonatas.  The instrument arrangement calls for 2 violins for sonatas No. 1, 3, 5 and 2 recorders for the other sonatas.  The last sonata in the set is titled "In Imitation of Birds," pretty self-explanatory and evident from even the first few notes of the opening movement.  The music is both creative and imaginative in its own right, despite numerous existing attempts at imitations of the tweeting bird calls.  

Like Henry Purcell, these sonatas have a clear Italian influence on them.  At the same time, the style is unmistakable English.  My first encounter with English Baroque instrumental music was with Henry Purcell's 12 Sonatas in 3 Parts.  What struck me was the peculiar harmony and degree of dissonances present in the music.  As interesting as it is, I don't think this style has won over me completely at any point.  It has always seems to be more distant, and despite how lively the performance is,  it always feels like dark clouds looming over.  I'm sure the people were aware and conscientious about it, and it wouldn't surprise me that the Italian music forms and styles soon won over the English.   

This disc collects all of the known intact surviving works composed by William Williams, which is not much.  There are the 6 op.1 sonatas and two other pieces less than spectacular to the trio sonatas.  Camerata Köln, whose founding members having been playing for 30 years, are definitely one of the most experienced Baroque chamber ensembles on the planet.  Some of the members have even played with Musica Antiqua Köln or Freiburg Baroque Orchestra.   However, as my friend John (aka biberfan) had brought up to me years ago before, Camerata Köln does not seem to be as daring and willing to take larger cuts, but they have a safer and more refined style of playing, solid and fluid nonetheless.

This is one of the few discs I have from CPO which isn't part of a set that does not make it past the 50-minute mark.  In all honesty, there was not much music left to record, and whatever was there certainly were not epic pieces.  The sonatas of op.1 are not arranged in order (why do record companies do this when it's not an issue of time like fitting a set of 12 concertos or sonatas on 2 discs?), and the real highlight of the recording, which is the sonata "In Imitation of Birds," happens to be the first piece.  They actually do a very fine job here, as they enjoy the moments and take time to relax to really show off the bird calls.  

What this also means is that everything else makes less of an impression and goes downhill after that, compounded by the fact that this English Baroque music is not the most ear-catching by a long shot.  Camerata Köln could have maybe added a bit more spice or character to make some of the music more memorable, but in all, it was a good recording, which is what you would expect from them.








2 comments:

GGs Adventure said...

我上次在找某首曲子(好像是找中提琴協奏曲)時發現此人,也是對他的名字感到很困惑,緊接著就想到我有認識的人名字類似此:Andy Andrew. 感覺就像是中文有人叫作高高,方方,丁丁之類的 :P

Deadlockcp said...

說到這個,我念大學的時候,還真有一位朋友叫高高,是華裔的同學。那時看到他名字是拼 Gio Kao Kao。

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