Monday, September 6, 2010

Pandolfi: Complete Violin Sontas (Andrew Manze + Richard Egarr)

Giovanni Antonio Pandolfi Mealli (ca 1630 - ca 1669) 是義大利的巴洛克早期/中期的作曲家。他的生平不詳,但只知道他是奧地利皇太子Charles Ferdinand宮廷裡的音樂家。Charles Ferdinand是一位極權的統治者,但他同時也熱愛音樂,重用四處各地的音樂家。

他遺留下來的作品並不多,有兩套作品三和四的小提琴奏鳴曲,於1660在Innsbruck的宮廷寫的。另外,他於1669在羅馬有出版另一系列的作品。

這張CD錄的是他於1660所寫的12首小提琴奏鳴曲,作品三和作品四各六首。這些早期的小提琴奏鳴曲,風格和之前提及過的Schmelzer奏鳴曲和Partiturbuch一樣屬Stylus Fantasticus (Fantastic Style)(奇異風格)。這些奏鳴曲沒有正式地分樂章,而是全部的段落都連在一塊的,中間沒中斷的。它們形式自由,有些部份緩慢地歌唱著旋律,而有些地方仿即興片段一樣,瘋狂地宣洩情緒。這些曲子的炫技效果,雖然對今天而言稱不上非常困難,但需要手指一定程度上的敏捷,絕非容易!

每一首奏鳴曲都有一個標題,都是當初和Pandolfi同宮廷的音樂家的名字。Pandolfi應該是出於一種友誼和敬意而為他們取名的,是當時常見到的一種舉動。其中有一位"La Stella"是唯一重覆的音樂家,是作品三第一首,以及作品四第五首的標題。

灌錄這張CD的音樂家為小提琴家Andrew Manze和大鍵琴家Richard Egarr。二人在各自的樂器上,都是古樂裡的佼佼者。Andrew Manze和Richard Egarr,我都有榮幸聽過他們個別的現場表演。不過說也奇怪,那幾次因為他們選的曲目的關係,除了無法表現他們的長處和特色,而且對整體的表演還是小失望的。不過,他們錄音裡的水準,不論技巧和音樂性,都是一流的,無庸致疑。

Manze錄過多首Biber的小提琴奏鳴曲,因此論曲子的困難,一定是難不倒他的。我對Manze最大的抱怨,來他小提琴的音色。他的琴音有時候感覺乾乾沙沙的,有可能是他琴本身的特性,也有可能是他有時下弓太重。剛開始我不大能接受,但是隨著時間久了,是慢慢地接受了。有一位網友說,這個琴音太獨特了,一定錯不了,也算是個人風格的一部份。

而Manze的音樂性和新鮮感,來自他在原譜之上,會加上許多即興的裝飾奏和補上和絃。和原譜對照著看,就會赫然發現他加的東西比一般人所會加的多很多。有人可能會質疑,倒底有多少是作曲家的本意,而哪些是Manze自己的個人原素?但,既然作曲家原意當今無法揣測,那音樂家的創意和變化,就成為聽眾剩下可用來判別評論的東西了。而Manze的詮釋,有時雖給人嚴謹的感覺,但大致上是都充滿動力,並富有想像力,給人留下印象深刻,稱心滿意的表演。今天那麼多的古樂小提琴手,程度跟技巧都很紮實,但要說讓你真正無法忘記的音樂家,倒底有多少位呢?常常這些古樂小提琴家的表演都中規中矩,很實在,但少了些特色。Manze的大膽行徑,絕不是標新立異,而是深入了解音樂之後,用嶄新的面貌讓世人重新認識這些曲子。

而Egarr,在大鍵琴獨奏方面,褒貶不一,但他在數字低音伴奏上的功力,則是古樂音樂家裡最優秀之一的。除了適當補上濃厚的和絃,也在別的地方做出恰當的即興片段,呼應小提琴,使音樂不留白,或是一成不變。

若要踏出巴哈,韓德爾,韋瓦第那種晚期巴洛克的音樂,想嘗試接觸更早期,且風格大不同的巴洛克音樂,並有一位精彩的錄音,那這張CD是不會讓人失望的。

Giovanni Antonio Pandolfi Mealli (ca 1630 - ca 1669) was a early/middle-Baroque Italian composer, who played in the courts of Archduke Charles Ferdinand of Austria at Innsbruck.  Although Charles Ferdinand was a despot, he was also a great lover of music and employed many musicians from all over Europe.  

There is not much known about Pandolfi's (or Mealli's) life, and his only surviving works include 2 sets of 6 violin sonatas from op.3 and op.4 published in Innsbruck in 1660 and another set published in Rome in 1669.  This CD records the 12 violin sonatas of op.3 and op.4.  Although Harmonia Mundi titles it as "complete violin sonatas," because to my understanding, the 1669 collection also includes several other violin sonatas.  In that sense, it is technically correct to label is as "complete," but the title name does make the marketing very attractive.

These violin sonatas are written in stylus fantasticus, where the sonata as a whole is played uninterrupted, allowing a free-flowing of musical ideas.  The slow passages can be melodic and meditative, while the fast passages are improvisatory that can run wild, requiring considerable technique to play well.  Although it is by no means extremely difficult by today's standards, but it is no easy task to blow off either.  Each of the violin sonatas bears a title name, after a court musician of Pandolfi's time.  He probably named them after friendship, or probably just out of pure respect, which was routinely done in those times.  The name "La Stella" is the only name that appears twice, once in op.3 and once in op.4. 

The recording artists on this Harmonia Mundi release are celebrated period instrumentalists in their respective instruments, Andrew Manze on the Baroque violin and Richard Egarr on the harpsichord.  I have had the honor of attending their separate live concerts, Manze twice and Egarr once.  However, through a less-than-ideal selection of pieces, their performances have been less than memorable for me.  I enjoyed my first Manze concert much more though.   

However, their pairing has always been spectacular, and this is definitely not just because they are in a recording studio setting.  Back in the early 2000s, when I first met biberfan on the internet, we both commented that Manze's violin playing had a distinct sound that was not too much to our liking.  Sometimes it sounded dry and other times a bit scratchy.  I don't know if it is the instrument itself, or it resulted from more forceful bowing, but it was definitely unmistakable.  Over the years, I have gotten past this detail and have let the music and performances take over.  

Manze's playing is inventive in the sense that he improvises, alot.....     This is evident when you compare the original scores and realize how much was added on.  He fills in gaps with interesting passages, and the chords he fills in at the downbeats are rich and provide a nice effect.  I have seen another Amazon reviewer dismiss Manze as academic and not professional.  While everyone is entitled to their own opinion, this criticism might seem unusually harsh.  In general, Manze plays with good spontaneity and creativity that leaves a lasting impression.  With so many period violinists out there today, how many can you honestly say are able to do this?  And by this, I mean really make it memorable, not just good solid playing?

As for Egarr, he may be one of the finest continuo players out there.  Instead of content being the violin's sidekick and keeping the beats, Egarr weaves a completely different texture, the harpsichord being on equal terms with the violin, filling appropriate chords and improvising to give the pieces much needed variety.  

This is not your Baroque violin sonata in the style of Handel, Vivaldi, or Bach, but of a much older style.  Those unfamiliar with these pieces and style will find a dash of freshness, and Manze and Egarr's playing definitely add on to the excitement.   











3 comments:

John Hendron said...

This is among my two or three favorite discs featuring Andrew Manze (the other two, perhaps, his Corelli and his Handel, and in this case, both with friend Richard Egarr).

I'm at a loss for words in describing Manze's playing style; "academic" is the term chosen by some, and in HM's marketing, they say "gypsy" is his style. Those two terms don't mesh. I might also add that at times it is "stiff," but not in the terribly negative sense that the word,alone on a page, imparts to us. This music is good - people ought to listen.

It's hard to avoid Manze - he's recorded so much good music. Pandolfi's music is hardly known. Manze has thankfully recorded him twice (but not identical programs). He's precise, he's sometimes careful, and as you note, he is a real baroque player - adding his own stamp. And that stamp includes his signature sound.

I respect him immensely for having a "sound" and a "style" that you can put a finger on (the same could have been said for Goebel, who I can often hear even out of the texture of his own ensemble).

Who is to stay what this music sounded like 300-400 years ago? That's always the ultimate question that plagues us. Instead, Manze and Egarr do their thing. In this case, it is fresh, despite the music's age.

-biberfan

Deadlockcp said...

Yes exactly.

I forgot to comment that during one of the Q&A session with the artist after the concert, Manze demonstrated how he would play the same piece to different audiences on consecutive days.

It was a slow passage from a Vivaldi concerto, where he played one modestly (targeted towards religious nuns) and another one heavily embellished (targeted towards a group of school children). It was spontaneously played, and I don't think he would go through the length of preparing this for just a Q&A. My point being, I think his ornaments and improvised passages on the recordings are probably fresh thoughts as well, although giving off a more careful feeling to it.

I also forgot to point out that this is probably my first (or second) Manze CD, and it has also been a favorite of mine

Deadlockcp said...

I am currently in Austria, and these posts were pre-written. I was in Vienna and will be in Salzburg in a few days.

Probably due to the summer season, I don't see alot of early music happening around. I was sightly disappointed to see how much Mozart was marketed here, almost making it cheap. Also, the "typical" classical music scene literally stops at Haydn and goes no further. Maybe one or two mentions of Gluck.

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