Sunday, February 20, 2011

Biber: Sonatae tam aris, quam aulis servientis (The Parley of Instruments)

Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber (1644-1704) 是十七世紀中期歐洲最頂尖的小提琴家,不需要加上「之一」二字。他出生一百多年後,英國著名的音樂歷史學家Charles Burney直接斷言:「Biber應當是十七世紀最優秀的小提琴家,而他寫的小提琴獨奏曲裡,也是技巧上最困難的。」和Dresden(德勒斯登)稍微 年輕一點的Paul von Westhoff還有Johann Jakob Walther,這三位德奧音樂家是當時歐洲最有影響力的小提琴家,將小提琴技巧提昇到另一個境界。Biber的許多小提琴作品,也給予差兩輩的大師巴哈在寫他的無伴奏小提琴奏鳴曲和組曲時許多啟發。

Biber在二十世紀中期本來還算是被遺忘的作曲家之一,不過二十世紀末古樂運動盛行之後,他已經再度被重視了。在晚期巴洛克大師之後,往回推個幾十年,Biber被認為是最重要的作曲家之一。如果我要選擇向不聽古樂的愛樂朋友推薦一位非主流的古樂作曲家,我會不假思索地直接介紹Biber

以我自己而言,當初增廣我對巴洛克古樂見識的作曲家,正是Biber。當初念大三的時候,買了Maier所演奏的Mystery Sonatas/Rosary Sonatas(玫瑰經奏鳴曲),從此大開「耳」界。(Mingus兄在這兒寫了有關這張專輯的介紹)。這些奏鳴曲是奠定他在歷史上不可動搖的地位。當時聽完了這些奏鳴曲,我的驚訝的程度,甚至幾月過後仍猶存心中。原來在巴哈,韓德爾,韋瓦第這些晚期作曲家之後,有這號人物以及如此清新創作風格,徹底打破了我對「巴洛克」音樂的刻板印象。Biber在我心目中佔了極重要的地位,是其他作曲家無法取代的。也因為這樣,所以我也遲遲未動筆寫有關Biber的文章,因為擔心稍稍寫得不完整,都是對Biber大師嚴重的不正確描述。

和網友Pollini兄對Biber的親身聆聽經驗和過程一樣,我選擇不從Biber的Mystery Sonatas開始介紹起。這張CD上收錄的,是Biber寫給多樂器的奏鳴曲,算是他最早出版的音樂之一,於1676出版的。(他的Mystery Sonatas是沒有出版的,只留有手稿)。這十二首奏鳴曲的標題Tam aris, quam aulis servientis,「同適用於聖壇或是餐桌上」,和他後來的Fidicinium sacro-profanum有同樣的精神,代表神聖和世俗音樂的結合。為了多了解一下Biber在怎樣的時代背景會寫出這樣的音樂,所以將他簡短介紹他的生平一下:

Biber (也是德文的beaver,真的就是海狸),出生於波西米亞的Wartenberg(今天捷克的Stráž pod Ralskem)。他早期的生平不詳,但最早有紀錄指出他曾在奧地利的Graz的Johann Seyfried von Eggenberg王子的宮廷裡擔任音樂家。1668年起,他到Kroměříž(今天位於捷克)成為prince-bishop(采邑主教)Karl Liechtenstein-Castelcorno旗下的樂手。Biber原先就已和宮廷樂團指揮Pavel Vejvanovský交情甚好,而他在主教的宮廷裡也甚受歡迎。除了小提琴上的功力常常使朝臣稱奇,Biber也有演奏古中提琴以及低音提琴。

1670年,主教派Biber去向名製琴家Jacob Stainer訂新的樂器,給他的樂手使用。但是,Biber沒去拜訪Stainer,反而去投靠了Salzburg的大主教Maximilian Gandolph von Khuenburg。Karl主教為此舉動非常受傷,但基於和大主教的友誼,並沒有翻臉。而Biber自知理虧,之後仍常將許多自己寫的作品寄過去,希望尋得Karl的善意。

在Salzburg,Biber立刻平步青雲,升到了樂團的代理指揮,於1684年終於正式成為樂團的總指揮。Biber身為音樂家和作曲家的聲名遠播,傳遍整歐洲。在神聖羅馬帝國皇帝Leopold一世面前表演之後,皇帝也相當賞識地給了他一條金鍊子。Biber之後被封為貴族,姓氏上加上von Bibern (仍然是海狸,實在有點怪。這就像是要開口說「啟秉松鼠大人」一樣~~~~ )。而新上任的大主教Johann Ernst,甚至還將Biber任命為總管大臣,是他一生中取得最高的榮譽。

今天Biber的高評價多來自他的小提琴奏鳴曲,但Biber在合奏奏鳴曲以及宗教音樂上也同樣見長。對於大編制的音樂,他在對位上和各樂器的音樂樂句的掌握幾近無瑕。Biber對於樂器的不同編制,也表現出他過人的創意和對音樂的敏銳度。這張專輯上的十二首奏鳴曲,是獻給上述在Kroměříž的前顧主,應該是要令他息怒的眾多作品之一。它們的樂器組合都不大相同,但都寫給數支小提琴和中提琴。其中還有五首奏鳴曲還需要用到一支和兩支小喇叭(小號)(trumpet)。和之前介紹過許多巴洛克早期的奏鳴曲一樣,它們都是單樂章,但中間分好幾段,其節奏,節拍,速度等性質都不同,製造出對比的效果。

這種既可神聖又可世俗的音樂,Biber並不是第一人。其實,他的前輩Schmelzer早在1662就寫了一套Sacro-profanus concentus,似乎是Biber寫這一套時用的範本。莊嚴的對位來代表適合宗教的音樂,而輕快的舞曲風,則是近人的音樂。Biber超越Schmelzer老大哥的地方,在音樂本身困難度上可立刻能感受到。這些音樂一聽就不是給一般路人表演的,而是要有一定的程度才能執行的。常常第一小提琴的部份都有重責大任,而小號,尤其是當時沒有閥的巴洛克自然小號,許多樂句和小提琴線是相同的,所以吹奏起來難度更加高。有時在想,小號的奏鳴曲,雖然是可在一般非宗教場合下表演的,但很難想像會有誰有雅興要在家中表演有兩支小號的奏鳴曲~~~

這張不是我第一張Biber的CD,但卻是我第一張Biber不是寫給單支小提琴奏鳴曲的音樂,算是再開啟一扇讓我更深入了解Biber的窗。當時在網上聽到這些音樂家表演的第七號奏鳴曲,立刻被吸引。附帶一提,第七號奏鳴曲是唯一採頑固低音上的變奏曲形式。總之,逮到機會,這張就立刻入袋了。

Roy Goodman和Peter Holman領軍的The Parley of Instruments,之前在講英國作曲家Capel Bond時就介紹過了。Roy Goodman錄過的Corelli和Hellendaal的大協奏曲,我也很滿意。他們這張挑戰非英國傳統的古樂,倒令我比較吃驚。大致上,他們的表演算得體,但風格比較內斂,倒不是速度上,而是樂句表現上的彈性。和手邊另一個版本Manfredo Kraemer帶領的The Rare Fruits Council的版本起來,Parley的整體演湊速度其實還比Rare Fruits的快,但反而感覺後者有時更有精神。而且,Parley的速度選擇上較快,反而有時傷了他們。特別是第十號有小號的奏鳴曲,有些地方小號跟不上其他絃樂團的速度,吹起來很吃力,音拿捏不準,是較為可惜的地方。雞蛋裡挑完骨頭,英國小號家Crispian Steele-Perkins和Stephen Keavy當然也不是等閒之輩。

再來,Goodman和Parley似乎選擇不要太濃厚的音色,走的是小而精巧的路線,和Rare Fruits沉重厚實的感覺相當不一樣。Parley版的小號宏亮,而Rare Fruits的則比較圓潤。如果說Parley版的小號有點美中不足,純絃樂的奏鳴曲裡Goodman小提琴上的表現則值得稱讚。Goodman表演起來神情自若,斷句乾淨。人有時難免會喜新厭舊,因此對於Parley的版本,在新歡出現後,本來一度要棄之不顧。近來好好再度深入複習,發現仍有許多可圈可點之處值得回味。像是第一號還有第十二號奏鳴曲,他們還加了定音鼓,讓氣氛更加精神抖擻呢~~~

音樂不同時期,總有幾部重要作品像是大支柱,其餘作品環繞在旁邊,譬如巴哈的平均律,莫札特的「唐。喬望尼」,貝多芬的第九號交響曲,史特勞汶斯基的「春之際」等。如果要說小提琴奏作品,巴洛克晚期當然屬巴哈的無伴奏小提琴奏鳴曲和組曲, 韋瓦第的作品八小提琴協奏曲(「四季」的那套),以及更驚人的Locatelli作品三小提琴協奏曲「小提琴的藝術」。如要講巴洛克中期,十七世紀中期重要的小提琴作品,那則非Biber的Mystery Sonatas莫屬了。因此,留點空間,慢慢寫到他的玫瑰經小提琴奏鳴曲。當下之餘,就好好欣賞他同在合奏曲上的創作才華吧。

I've held off writing about Biber for as long as I can.  The reasoning is simple.  Biber is arguably the one early music composer that has completely changed my view of Baroque music, as much as MAK has changed the way I have come to appreciate how early music was played.  Like many, my initial encounter with Biber was his Rosenkranz Sonatas, also known as the Rosary, or Mystery sonatas.  This was in my younger college days, when I was still buying CDs from bidding off Ebay.  Anyways, my set was played by Franzjosef Maier, the violin  teacher of none other than maestro Reinhard Goebel.  Interpretation set aside, the music completely blew me away.  "This is Baroque music ?"  I mean, it sounded vaguely familiar, but not quite.  Compared to the prominent late Baroque style, this was not the same deal.  The impact was so great on me that it lasted a good few months.  I really owe it to Biber that it has literally opened a door to the great wealth of early music that I previously never was even aware of.  Even today I keep touching upon new realm after new realm, but it really began with Biber (beaver in German; yes the furry rodent that builds dams).  Therefore, I have felt that anything I write short of ideal would not do justice to the great master.

There are more than enough English entries on Biber's life and his important role as a violin virtuoso and groundbreaking Rosenkranz sonatas.  Incidentally, I owe my decade-long correspondence with articulate and knowledgeable fellow early music enthusiast biberfan to Biber as well.  Anyways, this disc features ensemble music that Biber, which was also an interesting revelation to me.  Not merely "just" a violin composer, Biber was a master at ensemble writing and sacred choral music.  His use of counterpoint and grasp of the musical line was just as immaculate.  The 12 sonatas are titled "tam aris, quam aulis servientis" meaning "as much for the altar as for the table," meaning they could be played in both sacred and secular settings.  His later set of Fidicinium sacro-profanum is also written in much the same spirit.  Biber, however, was not the first to start this trend.  Schmelzer in 1662 had already published a set of 13 sonatas titled Sacro-profanus concentus musicus, which seems to have served as a blueprint for Biber.

Other than the 7th sonata, which are variations over a ground bass, the remaining sonatas are single-movement, multiple-section sonatas, where strict counterpoint was often representative of the church setting and dance-like rhythms (mainly triple meter) signaled the secular sections.  Five of the twelve sonatas also feature one or two trumpets, giving the music a grandiose feeling, although I'm not quite sure anyone would like to play these particular sonatas at a casual house concert these days....    

The musicians on this disc are Roy Goodman and Peter Holman leading The Parley of Instruments, featuring natural trumpeters Crispian Steele-Perkins and Stephen Keavy.  My experience with Parley has been mainly English music (mainly Concerti Grossi), so this Biber disc was somewhat of a surprise.  To be fair, Parley puts up a good solid performance.  Goodman is a talented violinist, and his phrasing is good and clean.  They seem to opt for a lighter and compact sound, which sounds lively at times.  The only thing that I thought they could have done a bit better was to shape the music a bit more elastically, like holding a thought just before launching it, or stress a nice cadence.  Compared to the recording of The Rare Fruits Council, Parley actually plays each sonata  faster than Rare Fruits, yet livelihood seems to side with Rare Fruits.  In one occasion, playing the piece too fast actually hurts Parley, as in Sonata No. 10, there are runs were the trumpet is not quite able to catch up to the string's playing speed, and some notes come off as rather spotty.  Granted that the natural trumpet is one heck of hard instrument to play, the Rare Fruits take the "wiser" approach of slowing their tempo to ensure the trumpet's good overall intonation.  The being said, the trumpets played by Parley are brighter, whereas Rare Fruits' has a more rounded tone.  These match their own artistic interpretation, since Parley's direction is more lightweight, and the Rare Fruits go for a very rich and dark mood.  Each is convincing and consistent in the their own right.

After acquiring my Rare Fruits version, I went through a phase of brushing aside my original Parley version of the piece.  However, upon careful listening, they have their own merits that shouldn't be ignored totally.  For one, they employ timpanis for the first and last sonata, which works well and enhances the spirit of the music. The meatier Rare Fruits can be satisfying, but sometimes I also wanted to experience the piece in which the crisp harpsichord serves as the continuo instrument, because the chamber organ can at times be a bit overwhelming.  It seems that there is no better way to do them a little justice by featuring my first Biber entry to The Parley of Instruments, which hopefully should signal many future Biber entries to come.      











3 comments:

pollini said...

拜讀此篇大作,除了對Biber的生平有更清晰的了解,更對他的歷史定位有全然不同的體會。而這裡聽到的合奏曲也和我聽過的餐桌音樂不同。Deadlockcp兄此系列的分享介紹精采可期,持續關注中。

Deadlockcp said...

呵,有看到Pollini那篇有關Mensa Sonora失望神情的一文。我自己手上的版本,想必也不及MAK的演奏,我自己聽的時候,也是留不下印象深刻的音樂。

倒是我們共有的那張Zig Zag的Fidicinum Sacro-Profranum,倒己算是個很稱職的表演了。Fidicinum Sacro-Profranum我的整體感觸並沒有這些Tam aris, quam aulis servientis那麼強烈,所以會留到以後再來介紹。

看到Pollini兄也有機會聆聽到Holloway的Biber。恰好,我手邊最早兩個版本正是Maier和Holloway的。在「過渡」到Goebel的強硬德式風格之前,Holloway的詮釋我一度非常欣賞。事隔幾年,Holloway的拉法已不能完全滿足我對這些音樂的期待,但他那種神情自若,談笑風聲的拉法我永遠不會忘記。後來還有機會聽到本人的現場表演,他拉一首Vivaldi的小提琴協奏曲像吃飯喝水般地容易~~~

John Hendron said...

From your samples, the performance sounds polished, but they miss on the style folks like Rare Fruits have championed, one that celebrates the "phantastic" nature of the music. Having heard some of these in large acoustic spaces, I wonder which is really more authentic...

Crispian Steele-Perkins is a quality trumpet player, and sounded good. I love the two CDs the Freiburg Consort put out, with very soulful performances from Petra Mullijans. They are combined in one with works from Schmelzer, and in another, with Muffat. Their trumpets are a bit more wild, and ultimately in the confines of my living room, too off color, compared to the more polished sound here.

One can also hear MAK in a couple with members from the Gabrieli Consort with the Missa Salsburgensis recording on DGArchiv.

You have a long road ahead reviewing Biber - but as you say - it will be worth it. He wrote expressive music, and his re-discovery by modern audiences is always exciting.

John
Fan of Biber

Post a Comment