Friday, December 10, 2010

Hellendaal: Concerti Grossi (Op.3) (European Community Baroque Orchestra / Roy Goodman + Andrew Manze)

Pieter Hellendaal (1721-1799) 和Geminiani(傑米尼亞尼)還有大師韓德爾一樣,在自己國家不被重用,而到英國去發展的作曲家。仔細看他出生日期,會發現他比韓德爾他們足足晚了一輩,所以很有可能是看到這些前輩們在英國過得相當風光而步上相同之路的。Hellendaal自己也不是什麼省油的燈;他成為了十八世紀最有名的荷蘭籍作曲家之一。


出身於鹿特丹,父親是做蠟燭的,不過自幼就在小提琴上展現出天份。全家搬到阿姆斯特丹後,受到阿姆斯特丹祕書長的賞識,Hellendaal在年紀輕輕,十六歲的時候,就被送到義大利,和小提琴大師Tartini學琴。回到荷蘭,他繼續就讀University of Leiden,並努力嘗試打入音樂圈,時常在各種場合表演。

不穩定的職業,終究使他心灰意冷,讓他下定決心要離開自己的祖國。他這一去英國,就永遠留在那兒了。在英國,他是一位成功的小提琴家,在各大音樂圈裡演出。除了參與韓德爾歌劇Acis and Galatea的演出,他還曾經有過在每幕和每幕間的空檔中,出來表演小提琴獨奏。1762年,他終於定居劍橋,先是職業小提琴家,然後又是小提琴及樂理的老師。最後,他還有任職過Pembroke Hall還有St. Peter's College教堂的風琴師。

Hellendaal出版過的作品並不多,共六部,而且前兩部是在荷蘭出版的。晚年因為接教堂的職務,所以許多宗教的聲樂曲是那時候所創的。因為英國的音樂品味落後歐洲幾十年,所以他的音樂風格在歐洲大陸絕對是過時的,仍停留在晚期義式巴洛克的曲風,只有他最後作品六的Three Grand Lessons才比較接納古曲時期的作創手法。

這張CD上收錄的是他於1758年在英國第一次出版的音樂,作品三的六首大協奏曲。大協奏曲在英國甚是歡迎,在之前許多文章都已經介紹過。當時英國的小提琴家質素普遍不高,要表演一首韋瓦第或是Tartini的協奏曲幾乎是自找麻煩。而大協奏曲,合奏群(ripieno)的部份通常困難度不是太高,而獨奏樂器群(concertino)裡,幾位像樣的音樂家挑得起大樑即可。剛剛我發現我過去很巧地寫了不少介紹英國十八世紀大協奏曲的曲目,例如GeminianiBond,還有Hebden。這篇等於是再多添一篇。


Hellendaal的這六首大協奏曲是向前輩Handel的作品六看齊的,是當時英國的作曲家都會採用的架構。Hellendaal的大協奏曲樂章也同樣地有一定的多樣性,結合義式和法式音樂的元素。但如同另一位前輩Geminiani,他在concertino裡多加了一把中提琴,使聲音多了一層厚度。大協奏曲快樂章裡免不了讓各聲部之間有小賦格的對位,互相呼應,但也不忘給concertino裡大牌的音樂家表現一下。因為Hellendaal本身是厲害的小提琴家,所以感覺得出來他有點手癢,常喜歡為concertino的第一小提琴寫一些比較花俏的東西,秀給在座的聽眾看。當然,Hellendaal不是只會這樣虛晃一下,賣弄小提琴技倆的泛泛之輩。他的作品三協奏曲,樂句順暢,感覺是很自然的流出,而且源源不絕。當你覺得音樂平淡無奇的時候,他總是會丟入一些小驚奇,例如使第五號協奏曲裡,concertino小提琴在快樂章裡拉雙絃和三絃,第四號協奏曲最終樂章的田園風,或是第三號還有第五號最後的進行曲,都是在形式上,以致於音樂的整個呈現上的奇妙變化。

我對巴洛克的大協奏曲有種特別的喜愛,有可能是小學開接觸古典樂時,最早念到的東西,所以在心中一直佔了很重要的地位。當然,論音樂本身,慢樂章時各聲部相繼出現,快樂章裡的對位,互相綿密地交錯,也是我相當喜歡這些絃樂合奏曲的原因。加上,自己收集家的個性,看到這種先前不認識,但又有完整的專輯,留意許久,終於敗下去。

這張CD的樂團,叫European Community Baroque Orchestra(現改名為European Union Baroque Orchestra),是由歐洲最年輕有為的古樂學生所組成的,成員是一直在替換的,並有資深的古樂音樂家帶領。錄這些曲子的時候,剛好由資深的英國古樂小提琴Roy Goodman還有Andrew Manze指揮。他們的錄音先前都介紹過,表演風格活潑有力,而樂團的年輕音樂家,也絲毫不遜色,整體表演相當有生命力。 CD冊子上寫說這是Hellendaal作品三的第一個完整的錄音;之後荷蘭牌子NM Classics也有一張由Jan Willem de Vriend帶領Combattimento Consort Amsterdam的錄音。手邊有一張sampler上收錄六首中的兩首,可是對他們的表演方式不是很滿意,有點保守內內斂。反觀,European Community Baroque Orchestra的聲音厚實,拍子強弱分明,大小聲對比強烈,正是我喜歡的演出方式。原本這張很有可能淪落到那種聽過一兩次就擺在那兒積灰塵的CD,可是一聽再聽,新鮮感完全沒有淡掉,反而日益增長。在十八世紀英國所寫的優秀大協奏曲裡,除了Handel的作品六,Geminiani的作品三之外,現在我認真地考慮將Hellendaal的作品三也列為其中之一。

Pieter Hellendaal (1721-1799) was a Dutch composer that sought to seek his fortunes in England, much like Handel and Geminiani.  He was born in 1721, so he's considerably a generation (or two) younger than them.  I guess he witnessed their success and tried to do the same, which was a wise career move.  He was one of the most famous Dutch composers of the 18th century.  Although, for my ignorance, I must ask, were there any others that we know of today? 

Born in Rotterdam to a candle-maker family, they later moved to Amsterdam.  Hellendaal's skills on the violin was noticed at a young age, and the Secretary of Amsterdam agreed to send young Hellendaal abroad (age 16) to Italy and study with famed violinist and composer Tartini.  He resumed his studies by going to the University of Leiden and attempted to establish himself in the music circle by performing in various concerts.  That seemed to work for a while, but ultimately there was no permanent position for him, and a disappointed Hellendaal went to London.

He quickly became a successful violinist, often playing solo violin works at different venues.  He was also documented to play solos between the acts of Handel's Acis and Galatea.  Later in his life, he settled in Oxford, where he was a concert musician, then violin and music theory teacher, and then more interesting, the organist for Pembroke Hall chapel and St. Peter's College. 

Hellendaal's surviving opus is small, with only 6 published works.  His instrumental music is thought as being old-fashioned in mainland Europe.  However, England was a different story, as the concerto grosso's big popularity rode well into the 19th century.  Only did his last op.6 Three Grand Lessons start to adopt the emerging Classical style.

The works on this CD, his op.3 Concerti Grossi, are the first works he published when was in England.  Modeled after Handel's op.6 concertos, it is along the lines of late Italian Baroque style, but obviously under the fusion of other international tastes.  The concerto movements have variety in them, much like Handel's, unlike Geminiani's strict Italian movements.  Like Geminiani however, Hellendaal opts to add a viola into the mix of the concertino group, adding more depth into the sound.

The music of Hellendaal's concerti grossi flow smoothly and naturally.  Yet, it does not become tasteless, because Hellendaal throws in a few surprises here and there.  Two concertos end with energetic March movements, while one ends with a serene Pastorale.  Being an accomplished violinist himself, he could not resist to throw in some more challenging passages for the concertino, and it is indeed these flashes of brilliance that catch your ear, the most notable example being the 5th concerto, by far the more expansive one, where multiple stops are heard.

The musicians on this recording are the European Community Baroque Orchestra (now called the European Union Baroque Orchestra), comprised of Europe's top aspiring young early musicians, which are led by established period performers.  Here, the orchestra is led by Roy Goodman and Andrew Manze, exciting Baroque violinists that England has to offer.  Maestro Manze needs no introduction, and Roy Goodman's playing is as lively in his own right, as I have been very impressed wih his recording of Corelli's op.6.  The ECBO play very well with the energy to match Manze and Goodman's vitality.

The CD claims to be the first complete recording of the pieces, as subsequent recordings have been made on period instruments by the Dutch group Combattimento Consort Amsterdam and modern instruments by the Slovak Chamber Orchestra.  With all due respect to the Slovak Chamber Orchestra, but my tolerance for modern instruments has gone down considerable over the last few years.  I also own a sampler CD which includes 2 of the 6 concertos played by Combattimento Consort Amsterdam.  They are solid, but a bit too safe.  Compared to them, the ECBO is much more engaging, has a richer sound, places emphasis on the strong beats, and has good dynamical contrasts.  It is by all means, a more exciting performance.  Goodman and Manze's playing certainly are the icing on the cake.

I have always had a particular liking to the concerto grosso form.  Maybe this was one of the first Baroque forms that I encountered when I was a kid, just exploring classical music, but the term and music has always attracted my attention.  Add to my collector personality, where complete cycles are always welcome, Hellendaal really caught my eye.  Fearing that this CD might end up in the same fate as others, where they'd be collecting dust after one or two listenings, I have enjoyed these pieces immensely.  A fresh and tasteful performance by ECBO and highly recommended.







3 comments:

John Hendron said...

I own this recording, and agree it's well done. This seems like a large ensemble, but the music would work well, too, I think with a smaller ensemble. Your post told me a lot about the composer (I bought this as an MP3 album and had no liner notes).

It's remarkable how late the work is, despite its style.

Deadlockcp said...

Info from the CD says:

Goodman + Manze +

violin I x 4
violin II x 4
viola x 2
cello x 2
double bass x 1
theorbo x 1
harpsichord x 1
organ x 1

I've been recently pondering the idea of buying mp3 albums. But I do like the feel of having the actual CD and some interesting liner notes. I supplement it with info off the online Grove Music entry.

Mingus said...

荷蘭的 early music 我很有興趣,將這位沒聽過的作曲家列入收藏清單。

雖然,大部分的音樂家都往德法義英幾個大國去了。畢竟在那時代,沒有patron 或市場的音樂家,是無法存活的。

Concertino 用得好用得巧,大協奏曲精彩度會差很大。加入中提琴的 texture 變得豐厚有重量感,很想在自己音響上享用。

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