Thursday, February 10, 2011

Barriere: Sonatas for Cello and Continuo, Second Book (Ensemble "Concerto di Bassi")

Jean-Baptiste Barrière (1707-1747) 是法國晚期巴洛克作曲家,也是當時法國最出眾的大提琴家之一。他為大提琴寫的四冊奏鳴曲,應該是當時為此樂器樂寫最多曲子的作曲家了。只有後來古典時期Boccherini的出現,才超越他的產量。

Barrière出身於Bordeaux(波爾多),父親是補鞋的,家中還有兩位姊姊和兩位兄弟。一位兄弟,決定也去發展手工藝,後來成了玻璃工人。另一位兄弟則選擇去做神職人員。相較之下,Barrière選擇音樂這條路,和他家庭的歷史背景都相當不同,顯得格外特別。

和許多法國音樂家一樣,Barrière開始應該是學習古中提琴(viola da gamba)的,後來才轉練大提琴的。大提琴原本來自義大利,是漸漸才傳到法國的。路易十四,為了擁護法國的文化,一直儘可能抵擋外來的影響。他過逝之後,才變得越來越開放。(諷刺的是,路易十四的心腹作曲家Jean-Baptiste Lully(盧利)本身是義大利人)。總之,Barrière後來到了巴黎,做了Musicien ordinaire de notre Académie Royale de Musique(皇家音樂協會常任音樂家)。他於1736年,前往義大利進修,和名大提琴Francesco Alborea (別名Francischello)學琴。三年後,返回法國,繼續他的作曲家還有音樂家生涯。他過逝時,一項殊榮頒給了他的家人,由兄弟Francois接受。可見,Barrière的名氣在法國是相當響亮的。

Barrière一生出版了六部作品,前四部都是給大提琴的奏鳴曲。第五部是給高音古提琴(pardessus de viole,有興趣看英文解說和照片的可點這兒)的奏鳴曲,然後第六部是給大鍵琴的奏鳴曲。當然,最有價值和貢獻的,莫過於前四冊的大提琴作品。風格上,是受義大利曲風影響的法國曲子。從「奏鳴曲」一詞,就已經是不折不扣的義大利產物了。每首奏鳴曲通常都是四個樂章,慢-快-慢-快。不過,從樂句,節奏上來聽,則瀰漫著濃厚的法國味。光是技巧上來說,這些曲子就算對今天的大提琴家,都有一定程度上的挑戰。當初Barrière在寫這些曲子的時候,他根本沒在管那些業餘音樂家容不容易拉的音樂,而是不斷超越自己的極限。今天的巴洛克大提琴家,應該沒有不識或不拉Barrière的吧。之前認識台灣的巴洛克女大提琴家黃琪芝女士,對Barrière情有獨鍾,在這兒可見到。她的網站,也可聽到她的錄音唷~~

這張CD是Barrière作品二的六首大提琴奏鳴曲,由法國的室內樂團Ensemble "Concerto di Bassi"演奏。之前不認識上面的音樂家,不過大提琴家Alain Gervreau有和我看過的音樂家合作過。照CD上的介紹看來,他們活動的範圍好像也都主要在法國一帶。 首先,可能因為收音麥克風離音樂家太近的關係,可以清楚地聽到呼吸聲,多半是大提琴家的。如撇開這個「小」(因人而異)問題,那他們表演流暢,懂得如何讓音樂呼吸。在快樂章裡音樂的呈現非常動態,有掌握到何時該前進,何時該停頓。Alain選擇的大提琴音色有力而深沈,和有些聽到比較輕快的表現方式不同,不過並無不妥,而且相當一致。慢的樂章裡,這種拉法顯得很感性。那種在沈思的感覺,不禁讓人聯想起Barrière的法國前輩們的古中提琴音樂,其內斂程度遠過義大利的作曲家們。Gervreau與Ensemble "Concerto di Bassi",成功地傳達Barrière的大提琴奏鳴曲裡法國風原來感情上的深度,但同時結合了來自義大利風的活力,是悅耳又動聽的演出。

Jean-Baptiste Barrière (1707-1747) French composer and one of the finest French cellists of his time. His 4 books for cello represent probably the largest collection of works written for the instrument at the time, surpassed later by of course, Boccherini.  Born in Bordeaux, he was fourth among a family of five children.  Barrière's father was a cobbler, and one of his brothers took up a career in craftsmanship, becoming a glazier.  Among his other siblings, another brother became a clergyman, while his two sisters remained home for their lives.  It seems then, that Barrière had the most interesting life of becoming a musician, traveling to Paris and abroad.

Barrière, like many other French musicians of the time, started out on the viola da gamba, a French tradition upheld by former greats like Sainte-Colombe and Marais.  Eventually, French musical taste gave in to the Italian influence, especially after the death of Louis XIV.  After the instrument's gradual introduction in France, French cello music started with Boismortier, the first French composer to write sonatas specifically for the cello.  Barrière came to Paris, made it up the ranks, eventually becoming Musicien ordinaire de notre Académie Royale de Musique.  In 1736, to learn the latest and greatest, he embarked on a 3-year trip to Italy, studying at some point with famed cellist Francesco Alborea, also known as Francischello.  He later returned to Paris and resumed his activities as a cellist and composer. 

Of Barrièr's 6 published opuses, 4 are cello sonatas.  One is a set of sonatas for the pardessus de viole (Here is an interesting description to the instrument for those who are not familiar with what it is), and one is a set of harpsichord sonatas.  Like many of the later French works, these pieces are a synthesis of the French and Italian styles.  In all fairness, the term "sonata" by itself is as Italian as it gets.  Books 1 and 2 were written supposedly before his trip to Italy and books 3 and 4 after.  Stronger Italian influence is noticeable in the later books but they aren't absent in the earlier ones either.    All of his cello works present various technical challenges even to today's accomplished cellists.  Unlike Boismortier or Leclair, who would "compromise" to write easier pieces for the amateur musicians, Barrière couldn't care less about them.  Instead, he constantly challenged and strove to surpass himself.  

The works on this disc comprise of the complete 6 cello sonatas of his second book, all of the 4-movement slow-fast-slow-fast format.  The group here is the French Ensemble "Concerto di Bassi," with Alain Gervreau on the baroque cello.  Have not heard of them before, but they seem to be a well-established French period ensemble.  The close mic means that you get to hear Alain breathe,  a lot.  If you can look (hear) past that, then you are treated to fine and sensuous playing.  Ensemble "Concerto di Bassi" uses a combination of playing the harpsichord or the organ, depending on the mood of the movement.  The fast movements are played at a good pace, music amply driven with good phrasing and continuo support.  Alain seems to go for a darker and stronger sonority and not a light and jumpy tone, which does not bother me and is consistent throughout.  This is works, since for the highly idiomatic slow movements, the playing is very contemplative and emotionally charged, evoking the deep history of  French viol playing.  In all, a fine disc for a neglected composer...  

  





1 comment:

P said...

Hello, I found the Barrièrre's music videos on YouTube. I'm very interested on this CD (I can't find it). I'm specially interested in the track "Sonata for violincello & bc. No. 2", wich I heard in a radio station (I was enthralled for this interpretation). Can you perhaps send me this track, please? I hope you can help me. Thank you very much! And sorry for my bad english.

der.heizer.p@gmail.com

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