Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Concert: Ciaramella - A Piper's Noël (12/12/10)


Collection of Medieval Christmas songs and music played during Renaissance Italy, Spain, Flanders, France, Germany and England...


Adam and Rotem Gilbert, Doug Milliken, recorder, shawm, bagpipes
Greg Ingles, Erik Schmalz, slide trumpet, sackbut, recorder

Dylan Hostetter, countertenor
N. Lincoln Hanks, tenor
Joel Nesvadba, baritone
Jinyoung Jang, bass

St. Mark's Lutheran Church, San Francisco




曲目中最有名的兩首,第一首是西西里的一首民謠,一首Cazone di Zampognari,今天在義大利仍是流行的聖誕音樂。Zampognari是義大利的風笛(bagpipe),在今天義大利的聖誕佳節仍扮演重要的角色。住高原上的風笛手,在聖誕節前會離開他們家,到平地上,在市中心的廣場吹奏音樂,象徵聖誕節即將到來。Corelli開始在他的作品六之八「聖誕協奏曲」的Pastorale樂章,就是要補捉這種畫面和聲音。這首曲子,Youtube上有這個兒童版本,而Bocelli也演唱過。


還有,五位音樂家,整場音樂會並不是只單單吹一種樂器,而是有一直換來換去,從風笛,到shawm(雙簧管的前身,聲音比它尖銳許多,有一點點像國樂的嗩吶),不同的直笛,或是到slide trumpet與sackbut二銅管樂器。因此,聽了那些文藝復興時期複音音樂之後沒啥太深刻的印象,至少現場接觸了這些特別樂器,也相當值得。音樂會結束,還有上去和那些音樂聊天,合照,並請教和他們樂器相關的問題。

singers 聲樂家 
Mr. Doug Milliken and bagpipes (風笛)

Mrs. Rotem Gilbert

Adam and Rotem Gilbert with their shawms, and Doug Milliken

Admittedly, my range and repertoire of early music I listen to is a bit narrow.  Although, within this realm is more than enough music for several lifetimes for me to appreciate and enjoy.  So this concert by Ciaramella is a bit out of my usual listening preferences, being (1) from the Renaissance era and (2) vocal music, mainly sacred too.

The music performed is a collection of medieval Christmas music sung in the various main European countries.  As is with music of religious nature, a lot of music is on the solemn and serene side, but that isn't always the case.  Well-known Christmas carols in the English-speaking countries like "Joy to the World" are festive in nature, since Christmas was also a time for rejoicing and feasting.  People ate and drank and cheered, hoping to bid winter an early farewell.

Some of the music has survived in some kind of form even until today.  The piece Cazone di Zampognari is well-known in Italy as the song Tu scendi dalle stelle, and a quick youtube search yields a version you can view here. Historically, bagpipers would descend their homes from the hills in to the nearest town center weeks before Christmas, playing their zampogna (Italian bagpipes) and signal the arrival of Christmas.  Interestingly, this tradition is still present in certain parts of Italy.  Bagpipes are by far the most ubiquitous instruments heard in Christmas Italy.  Corelli captured the spirit of the bagpipers in his last movement of the Concerto Grosso Op.6-8, titled "Christmas Concerto."  Thus began a small trend of Italian composers writing string concertos to have a pastorale Christmas concerto.

Another piece, Greensleeves on a Ground, is based on the famous English romanesca tune.  Adam and Rotem Gilbert play an Anonymous version on Renaissance recorders, where each variation and section picks up speed and increases in virtuosity.  It was one of the most breathtaking pieces, and it certainly wowed the audience.

Did not forget about the four singers, who either sang a capella,  or with instrumental accompaniment from Ciaramella.  The instrumentalist cycle between interesting Renaissance instruments of bagpipes, shawms, recorders, slide trumpets, and sackbuts.  Some of these instruments basically fell off the map in the Baroque era, and even the recorder itself underwent significant modifications.  Therefore, audiences like me were treated to a display of unfamiliar instruments, when the polyphonic music, no matter how impressive, started to take a toll.  Another thing to note is that all the instruments played here were wind instruments, in total absence of string instruments, certainly a bit out of my usual experience.  Ciaramella played with great poise and skill, seemingly enjoying every moment.  

Members of Ciaramella were friendly and spoke to us after the concert, happy to explain their instruments to us.  What a group of musicians with a nice personality to go along with their wonderful playing.


John Hendron said...

I was in graduate school at the same time as the Gilbert's at CWRU in Cleveland... so neat to see them featured on your page!

Deadlockcp said...

sweet ~~~~~!!! I hope you thought highly of them then as you do now ..... :)

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