Thursday, September 30, 2010

Handel: Organ Concertos Op.4 (Simon Preston/Pinnock/The English Concert)

韓德爾當時被公認為最優秀的風琴家之一,和同輩巴哈在風琴上的技巧和即興能力可說是不分軒輊。一個有名的小故事,是年輕的韓德爾1709年的時候,遇到同歲的Domenico Scarlatti(小史卡拉第)。他們在主教Ottoboni(為愛樂者,贊助了許多音樂家,包括之前提到的Corelli)的宮殿裡較量起鍵盤樂器的功力。在大鍵琴上,二人平分秋色,不過Scarlatti專攻大鍵琴,因此還可能佔了點上風。但是到了風琴,則明顯不敵韓德爾。這次的音樂比劃,沒有讓二人產生任何心結。反而使二人成為一輩子的好朋友。Scarlatti更是這次交手後,才了解風琴上音樂表現的潛力。



不同於巴哈,韓德爾一生卻沒留下什麼風琴音樂,令人費解。許多曲子,他在風琴上即興一遍之後,就再也沒彈過第二次,也沒有譜下來。他當初在彈奏風琴時的神韻,只能從當時目睹過的人記載下來的文字中去揣測了。

韓德爾在風琴音樂的貢獻,莫過於他所寫的幾套風琴協奏曲,是這個曲式上最重要的代表。今天留傳下來的,有當時出版的三套風琴協奏曲。兩套是他生前時所出版的,分別為1738的作品四協奏曲和1739年的「第二套」零散的協奏曲。最後一套,是在他過逝後被別人整合後出版的作品七協奏曲。

我本身不信什麼宗教,平常聽的風琴音樂也不多,而韓德爾的協奏曲是最早接觸的風琴音樂。當初我高中的時候買了Peter Hurford彈奏的作品四風琴協奏曲,樂團是Concertgebouw Chamber Orchestra用現代樂器。除了好奇,另外是覺得協奏曲形式是比較能接受的。可惜,當時對韓德爾的印象普普,這些曲子聽過一二次也被陳放多年。

我大學再度欣賞韓德爾,上了研究所又買了不少韓德爾的作品,包括這套Simon Preston彈奏風琴,由Trevor Pinnock領軍的The English Concert的古樂版的風琴協奏曲集。我買的是2002重新發行的3CD裝的風琴協奏曲集,雖然標題宣稱是Complete Organ Concertos,不過其實少了一首,是韓德爾另一首協奏曲Concerto a due cori第三號改編的,是否是韓德爾親手寫的,都存在一定的爭議性,因此他們沒有錄。之前提的Peter Hurford則是有灌錄。


在這兒只想討論作品四的協奏曲,因此擺了當初1984時Archiv第一次發行的CD封面。 韓德爾的作品四風琴協奏曲多半是在1735和1736年間時為他的神劇而寫的,穿插在不同的合唱,宣敘調,或詠嘆調之間。使用風琴,無疑增加了隆重還有神聖的氣氛。

作品四裡最有名的協奏曲,當是第六首。雖然是風琴協奏曲,但這首初演的時候是給豎琴的協奏曲。為什麼當初是用豎琴?原因是當時神劇Alexander's Feast穿插了三首韓德爾的協奏曲,除了第一幕裡作品四之六的這首協奏曲,快結束的第二幕尾還有穿插作品四的第一號協奏曲。韓德爾當時覺得,如果第一幕就已經用上了風琴,那第二幕要結束時那種盛大的效果就不夠震憾,高潮盡失。

今天,韓德爾作品四之六的這一首協奏曲雖然用風琴或豎琴演奏的版本都有,不過絕大多數都是用豎琴。這一首除了已經變成是大眾古典樂的一首,還是豎琴協奏曲裡的代表作。Pinnock和English Concert決定採用豎琴的版本。

韓德爾可能是我看過最會「資源回收」的作曲家。 同一個旋律,可以出現在好幾個不同的曲式。不過該稱讚的是,經韓德爾妙手一變,一段漂亮的三重奏鳴曲主題,搬到風琴協奏曲,卻也非常恰當,而且他又加了幾段獨奏的片段,甚至比原本的還要再多點風味,青出於藍。作品四的協奏曲裡,部份被韓德爾改編的有下:

(1)第二號協奏曲第二樂章:原來自作品二之三的三重奏鳴曲第四樂章。
(2)第三號協奏曲第一,二樂章:原來自作品二之五的三重奏鳴曲第一,四樂章。
(3)第五號協奏曲:整首改編自作品一之十一的直笛奏鳴曲。


如果撇開韓德爾過於愛改編的惡習,而欣賞音樂的本身,那這些協奏曲可是漂亮的音樂,可以充份見識到韓德爾對於旋律和音色上的掌握。快的樂章裡,可以清楚聽見他在鍵盤對位上的精通,更不輸給巴哈。


Simon Preston是本世紀最偉大的風琴家之一,協奏曲許多地方是靠他獨挑大樑,對他來說一點問題也沒有。可惜自己對風琴的彈奏和不同register的運用是外行,所以這些地方不大能評論,但整體而言,Preston選擇的風琴register不會刺耳,選擇的音色算柔和但不渾濁。Pinnock和English Concert在戲份相對少,但非常稱職,樂團引導的前奏以及間奏都簡捷有力。

作品四之六的豎琴協奏曲,找來的是Ursula Holliger,是當今最有名的雙簧管家Heinz Holliger的老婆。Ursula在豎琴上自己也是權威,整體表現很踏實,自己的裝飾音也很自然和隨性。由於這一首曲子絃樂本身都有加上柔音器,Ursula和樂團給人一種很午後悠哉的感覺。

寫風琴協奏曲的作曲家並不多,但如果要選擇聽一位的,那非韓德爾的莫屬了。在他筆下,風琴沒有獨奏曲裡的冗長和沉重,而和樂團對話之下的鍵盤音樂是美麗的。Simon Preston和English Concert的這個錄音,更是可讓聽眾在「水上音樂」和「皇家煙火」這些被聽到爛的音樂之外,可以認識韓德爾大師的卓越。

Handel is considered to be one of the best organists of his time, on the same level of Bach.  One of the most important anecdotes of musical competition took place at cardinal Ottoboni, where Domenico Scarlatti and Handel battled out their skills on the keyboard.  On the harpsichord, they were deemed equal, with Scarlatti having slight edge if any.   On the organ though, Scarlatti had to concede defeat to Handel.  Instead of hostility, the two became lifelong friends, where Scarlatti was to utter nothing but respect towards the German master.  Scarlatti also spoke of realizing the organ's musical capabilities only after listening to Handel's playing.

Unlike Bach, there really are not many existing organ works by Handel.  A superb improviser on the organ, he probably never bothered to write any of them down after he played through them.   It is a shame, as we will never really know how good Handel was on the organ aside from contemporary eyewitness accounts.  

Handel's historic stamp on the genre of organ music lies in the 3 sets of organ concertos that were published by John Walsh.  Two sets were published in his lifetime, during 1738 (Op.4) and 1739, and another set was published posthumously after his death in 1751 (Op.7).  These organ concertos were written even earlier during Handel's performances of his oratorios, where the concertos were used as interludes at various stages of the oratorio.

I bought my first Handel organ concertos in high school in the early 90s, where I haphazardly came across Peter Hurford's recording of the Op.4 concertos  with the Concertgebouw Chamber Orchestra on modern instruments.  At the time, I enjoyed Baroque concertos but was not particularly impressed with Handel.  After a few listenings, I didn't really go back to them until later in college, when I bought the remaining Hurford recordings of Handel's concertos and started to appreciated Handel (again).

I bought Simon Preston's version of Handel's concertos with the English Concert later in graduate school, when I wanted a period performance.  The 3CD set is titled "Complete Organ Concertos," where in fact they left out one concerto.  In the booklet though, they note that that concerto is a mere arrangement of another Handel concerto, and with the authenticity disputed, they decide not to record it. 


Since I'd like to just review the Op.4 concertos, I've also put their original CD cover of the Op.4 concertos on here as well.   The most famous piece of the set has got to be the last concerto, Op.4 No.6, which is customarily played on the harp.  It is to date, one of the most famous classical harp concertos.  Historically, it was debuted on the harp as well.  This was because Handel actually used concertos Op.4 No.1 and No.6 in his oratorio Alexander's Feast, where concerto No.6 was in the first act and No.1 was in the second act, close to the conclusion.  Handel felt that if concerto No.6 used the organ as the solo instrument, it would rob the later organ concerto of its grandeur and climax.  Concerto No.6 has very specific directions to use muted strings, which goes to show how deliberate Handel wanted things to be arranged.

Handel is noted for excessive recycling of his works, a fact I despised early on but have come to terms with.  Many of the Op.4 concertos are reworkings of his earlier chamber music.  Some of these include:

(1)  Concerto No.2 Movement No.2 -  from trio sonata Op.2-3 Movement No.4
(2)  Concerto No.3 Movement No.1 and 2 - from trio sonata Op.2-5 Movements No.1 and 4
(3)  Concerto No.5 - entire concerto arranged from recorder sonata Op.1-11

What is impressive is that Handel's arrangement from one genre to the other is actually very convincing.  Added solo organ passages actually add to final product and sounds like a genuine organ concerto in its own right.  If you overlook the fact that some of the pieces aren't entirely "original," these concertos stand out as very fine pieces.  Handel's grasp of the melodic line and instrumental texture is exquisite, and his mastery of counterpoint is certainly on par with Bach.  

Simon Preston is one of the legendary organists of the 20th century, and his ease on the organ is evident.  I am not familiar with the organ myself, so I cannot comment more critically on his use of registers and what not, but his choices have come off as very adequate for me.  The tone color is not too sharp to the ear, is warm but not muddled.  The English Concert led by Pinnock gives very good orchestral support, providing introductions and passages linking the organ solos with good crisp playing.  The Concertgebouw Chamber Orchestra's support is actually very adequate, compared to some of the other overly romantic lush string sounds from other modern ensembles, but the English Concert sounds just a bit fresher.  Lastly, Ursula Holliger's playing of the harp concerto is a fine delicate reading, one that is sweet and relaxing but spontaneous at the same time with her ornamentations.    

There are not many concertos written for organ and orchestra, and if you must listen to one, it has got to be Handel's.  The concertos give the listener a chance to experience the organ's serene and beautiful sonorities through its interplay with the string orchestra, without the daunting feeling solo organ pieces might impose on one.  Simon Preston and the English Concert provide the excellent opportunity to explore and Handel's greatness outside of the classical superhits of Water Music and Music for Royal Fireworks.














3 comments:

GGs Adventure said...

算是有趣的巧合

前陣子因為和兩位討論到樂器與錄音音效時我問到風琴,那時去圖書館借的CD中剛好也借到這套,目的就是想聽聽風琴的音色與錄音音效,沒想到今天你就剛好談到這套CD啦!

Deadlockcp said...

呵,這一篇其實是事先就寫好的 :P 事後跟你們談論風琴的時候心裡就覺得很巧。不過Handel的風琴是用室內風琴,跟一般規模更大的管風琴又不大一樣。本人對風琴算是外行的,所以可能得再去找找比較內行的人請教一下。

GGs Adventure said...

原來如此

我其實自己唯一有的是Bach 的 BWV525-530. 我對風琴接觸也很有限,應該說,對整個巴洛克時期的音樂接觸都很少

經過你的介紹,才開始稍微比較注意這時期的音樂. 所以你這部落格的目的之一也算是有達成啦 :P

Post a Comment