Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Concert: Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra + Lars Ulrik Mortensen (10/19/2010)

10/19/2010

J.S. Bach

Orchestral Suite No. 1 in C major, BWV 1066
Concerto for Harpsichord in D minor, BWV 1052
Weichet nur, betrübte Schatten (The Wedding Cantata), BWV 202
Concerto for Harpsichord in D major, BWV 1054

 Lars Ulrik Mortensen


會去聽Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra的音樂會,是前幾天聽房東太太說她看到報紙上有寫,我才赫然發現是週二晚上的事。2010-2011這一季,Philharmonia Baroque音樂的行程整個重新規劃了。以前,在Palo Alto一帶會是週五晚上,而且在其中的一個教堂裡舉行。今年開始,他們決定換到週二晚上,而且是到Menlo-Atherton High School的Performing Arts Center。說也好笑,雖然是個工作日,但這個Performing Arts Center離我現在住的地方,開車只要兩分鐘就到了,可說是方便至極。

平時學校會有免賈的票可以索取,不過這次並沒有收到音樂系的公告信,因此直接到現場去買票。Student rush tickets,憑學生證,只需要$10,實在是太划算了。

Philharmonia Baroque是舊金山灣區的巴洛克樂團,近幾年去聽了好幾場音樂會。每一場音樂會的表演水準,差異可以相當大,從極滿意到小失望的都有。裡面的成員都是灣區拉古樂的音樂家,只是平時大家都有自己的事,並沒有固定在團練的,而是音樂會要到了才密集排練的。這也是造成音樂會表現參差不齊的主要原因。

今天找來的客座指揮,國際上知名度不低的大鍵琴家Lars Ulrik Mortensen。他曾經和Trevor Pinnock學過琴,也和English Concert的許多成員都有合作過。Lars Ulrik Mortensen是一位我不知不覺中,就莫名奇妙收集到了他錄過的CD的音樂家,主要原因是他大部份都是擔任大鍵琴彈數字低音伴奏,獨奏或主奏的角色。手邊有幾張他獨挑大樑的CD,因此能有見到他的機會,當然是不放過。

這一天的音樂會的曲目,全是巴哈。第一首是第一號管絃樂組曲,有名程度不像第二號或是第三號,但也算是名曲之一。接下來兩首大鍵琴協奏曲,巴哈的大鍵琴協奏曲,我本來就已經很熟悉了,D大調BWV 1054那一首,其實是E大調小提琴協奏曲改編的,是世界名曲了。另外,還有聲樂作品的「婚禮清唱劇」,也算是名曲之一,只是以前沒有好好坐下來認真聽過。

Lars Ulrik Mortensen 邊彈大鍵琴邊指揮,和Pinnock帶English Concert一樣,不過這是我第一次看現場,所以非常新奇。Mortensen被形容成是Energizer兔子,因為他指揮的時候,肢體語言又多又誇張,手揮完,全身也跟著動,幾次都像是要從椅子上跳起來一般。

今天去聽,重點是擺在那兩首大鍵琴協奏曲。Mortensen彈琴時除了激動之外,觸感也相當重,而且很多樂句中,斷音的效果做得很明顯,讓音樂更有活力。再來,Mortensen在很多地方有許多即興的部份,給聽眾許多意外的驚喜,和呆板地只彈譜上的音比起來,更有巴洛克音樂該有的精神。我還注意到Mortensen會很有創意地穿梭在上下二排間,適時製造出音色和音量細膩的變化,是我很喜歡的。而且,Mortensen表演的速度表現出彈性,使得音樂的流向非常有道理。最後,BWV 1052 和 BWV 1054所需要的精湛技巧,不看Mortensen現場表演,光是聽錄音是不能好好體會的。

協奏曲整體最大的敗筆,是音樂廳的音效。大鍵琴本來就不適合在一般正規的音樂廳裡表演,何況這個Performing Arts Center又特別吸音,使得音量小聲到無法接受。我很幸運地做在第三排左邊,都已經覺得太安靜了。後來十幾排的聽眾,不知又要做何感想~~~~     大部份這種音樂,都得到教堂或是更小的室內空間表演,也難怪平常不聽大鍵琴的,在這種場合第一次聽到,肯定是要失望的。況且,Mortensen彈的是仿德國Graebner的琴,一個相當有力量的琴,如在對的空間彈奏,理應不是那麼弱的。

那首清唱劇,其實相當不錯。手邊其實有錄音,但都沒能好好欣賞,其實算是件可惜的事。



音樂會結束,我拿了一堆我的CD封面給他簽,並謝謝他為我帶來一個美好的音樂會夜晚。我看他好忙,都沒時間說我也是個業餘的大鍵琴家 :)

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Had the wonderful opportunity to be treated to a PBO concert guest conducted by Lars Ulrik Mortensen.  Mortensen is one of those artists that I manage to have alot of his recordings through his roles as playing the bass continuo to various orchestras and artists.  For example, I have his recordings of Buxtehude's chamber music, where he plays continuo to John Holloway and Jaap ter Linden.  Even more interesting, he was the harpsichordist of Collegium 90 for a few years, and he is on one of their early Telemann and Leclair recordings.

Tonight was an all-Bach concert, which is not necessarily a bad thing, since Bach did write a good deal of great music.  I was less interested in the first orchestral suite, but I was curious as to how Mortensen would conduct from the harpsichord.  It was very amusing, to say the least.  He was very animated like the Energizer bunny, having alot of  body gestures, from nodding and bobbing of his heads to shaking of his whole body.  Numerous times, he was on the verge of jumping out of his seat completely.  I mean heck, even his facial expressions were high exaggerated, but I think he was probably really enjoying the moment.

The harpsichord concertos were the real treats to watch.  His touch was very hard, but his "jumpy" phrasing made the music really lively.  Also, he improvises quite a bit in his solo passages, which gives the audience quite some elements of surprise.  This is quite refreshing, closer to Baroque in spirit as opposed to just playing the written notes.  He also utilizes the different tonal qualities and volumes of the registers, switching back and forth for echo effects or when the mood calls for the more "appropriate" manual.  Lastly, he does not play the piece at strict tempo, allowing great flexibility for shaping the flow of the music.  On top of everything, the two concertos are fairly demanding, and through Mortensen's technical brilliance, one is able to realize and appreciate it. 

The largest, and by far, the most fatal flaw in the concert was the volume of the harpsichord.  The concert was performed in a very non-reverberant hall, and I just have to say out loud that the harpsichord was not meant to be performed in a concert hall.  When you do this, bad things happen.....     I was sitting in the 3rd row, and even then the sound was very faint.  I can just imagine what the poor folks heard (in this case, not heard) in the 20th row.  The harpsichord being played on was a "powerful" German Graebner replica, but tonight it couldn't sound weaker.  In changing venues starting this season, it alleviates some of the parking problems, but I'm afraid it might also further give the harpsichord a bad reputation for the casual listener. 

The wedding cantata was done exquisitely.  It's a shame I didn't get to know this piece earlier (even though I have the recording to it). 

After the concert, I went up to Mr. Mortensen, thanked him for the concert, and asked him to sign my CDs.  Because he has had a long partnership with John Holloway, it was funny to have him sign my CDs and notice that John was "already there." 

2 comments:

John Hendron said...

Sounds like a great concert to have witnessed... I don't own any solo recordings by Lars, but like you, have him in many as a continuist.

I'm always excited to hear baroque folks who come alive in a live performance; I think recordings sometimes restrict what folks can do. It's almost to say, recordings should maybe come with 3 versions... or "takes." But of course - we can continue to support the best music through patronizing live performances.

Too bad the cembalo was too soft. Of course, I've ruined my perception of the real thing by blasting the sound through hifi.

Deadlockcp said...

I have his solo harpsichord recordings of Buxtehude, which are actually very well done. I think musicians are a little uptight during recordings, because they can't afford to make mistakes, forcing them to play more carefully. As my instructor said, it's hard to still play that musically when you've already messed up 20 times...

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