Monday, February 7, 2011

Concert: Voices of Music (01/28/2011)

William Skeen, Baroque cellist



11/08/2010

CORELLI: Concerto grosso Op. 6, No. 8 "Christmas Concerto"
VIVALDI: Concerto for recorder and strings in F,  La Tempesta di Mare RV 433
VIVALDI: Concerto for 2 cellos and strings in g minor, RV 531
VIVALDI: Concerto for strings in G major, Alla Rustica RV 151
J.S. BACH: Concerto in d minor for two violins and strings, BWV 1043
VIVALDI: Concerto for strings in g minor RV 157
CORELLI: Concerto Grosso in D, Op.6 No.4

Voices of Music 是舊金山灣區眾多古樂團裡的其中一個,不過他們的編制和之前提到的Archetti差不多,可大可小,小到可以演奏單獨樂器奏鳴曲,但也大到可以演奏八聲部的大協奏曲,是有彈性的樂團。許多成員同也身兼多職,如PBO,甚至Archetti~~~     其中,包括Carla Moore還有Katherine Kyme兩位當家小提琴手,不過Voices of Music的指揮其實是Hanneke van Proosdij和David Tayler夫妻檔,而且都是伴奏群的成員, van Proosdij彈大鍵琴(和吹直笛),Tayler彈theorbo。VOM在Youtube上有他們的頻道,影像和音質都高畫質,當然整體音樂表現也是一流的,拍子強弱分明,聲音綿密但斷句清楚,有精神但不狂野的拉法。

這一天的曲目都是義大利的協奏曲風,其中又以韋瓦第的曲子佔多數,其次是Corelli的,但巴哈那首則是古典樂的名曲:雙小提協奏曲。節目單上所有的音樂,又是一次,我全部都聽過的,所以少了可以聽到新曲目的那種驚喜感。甚至,上面有些曲目還是聽過現場的。不過,至少有些小時就很耳熟能響的曲子,可以聽現場古樂版,倒讓我很期待。

Corelli的兩首大協奏曲,恰好跟我之前介紹Goodman的Corelli作品六,放在網上的協奏曲一樣。這代表他們的口味跟我一樣類似嗎:) 我發現大協奏曲這種曲目,如果沒有刻意寫得太花俏,那其實音樂家素質足夠,表演等級的優劣並不會特別顯著。當初大協奏曲會盛行,想必也是因為合奏起來較為容易,受到相當的歡迎。

反觀,巴哈的雙小提琴協奏曲,獨奏的部份就大很多。韋瓦第的那些獨奏樂器的協奏曲,也是如此。認真想一下,獨奏協奏曲,還真是適合現場演出,因為個人表演的視覺效果還不小,是在家聽CD所不會有的。

對於古樂聽比較多的人,巴哈的雙小提琴協奏曲可是俗到不能再俗的曲目。相信許多聽眾可能期待一些比較新奇的音樂,但大師巴哈寫的東西,就是素質高的音樂,沒話說。如果表演者的水準高,倒不失為一種享受。VOM的表現可圈可點,手感既細膩又有活力,使得這首名曲再聽一遍也不厭煩。

這些協奏曲中,大部份我是給予肯定的。唯一較有意見的,是那首韋瓦第的雙大提琴協奏曲。這是蠻早就接觸的協奏曲,所以能聽到現場演出,事實上是很興奮的。不料,巴洛克大提琴的聲音,實在是很單薄。我們坐在後面二樓,感覺琴音很弱。大提琴的音色,反而更像是viola da gamba的音色,低音相當不厚實。兩位大提琴家William Skeen和Tanya Tomkins的拉法相當生動,有朝氣,但無法傳到我們這裡。

我在想有幾種可能性。
(1) 因為教堂的聲效,說不定只有前排有subscription的聽眾才有聽到良好的效果吧。但小提琴聲音都有傳過來,又說不大過去。通常理應是低頻的音被加強才對。所以,也很有可能是
(2) 我就是不習慣巴洛克大提琴的聲音。仔細想想,大部份的音樂會很少聽到巴洛克大提琴的獨奏,所以這點是很有可能的。

這算是整場音樂會裡較讓我掃興的。事後有和大提琴家William Skeen請教,他也承認聲音比較輕,是他那把琴的特色。他還說,音樂會很多地方,他其實是拉中提琴的譜。仔細看照片,會看到他那一把琴有五條絃,能拉更高的音域,所以這樣琴聲更接近gamba也不無道理。   

總之,這天晚上聽的音樂算是滿圓滿的,當然也期待未來VOM的音樂會了~~~

Voices of Music is one of the many period ensembles in the Bay Area.  They are one of the smaller chamber ensembles whose size can vary from one to around ten.  This pretty much covers the solo and trio sonatas, along with the concerti grossi, making them a versatile group.  Many members of VOM are also members of the PBO, so I've seen more than half of them play already.  In this more intimate setting, they play more cohesive and bring more livelihood to the music.  Their videos on youtube is in HD, and the sound is great too.  Overall, I am impressed with their playing.  Nothing too extreme or too bold, but some good solid and brilliant music making. 

This marks another occasion where I've heard all the pieces on the program (some even live on multiple occasions), so I'm not expecting to be surprised by an unknown piece.  Rather, I came to experience the other pieces I have not heard performed live.  The program consists of all concertos, either ensemble concertos or ones with solo instruments.  The center of attention here is no doubt Vivaldi, whose works are featured in more than half the program.  The other two are Corelli and J.S. Bach.

First off with the ensemble concertos, Corelli's concerti grossi and Vivaldi's string concertos.  One feeling I have is that with very competent and professional musicians, an ensemble concerto performance has a tendency to not stand out as much as a solo concerto, unless if the ensemble decides to take a completely radical approach.  This "great equalizer" characteristic seems to be a reason why they were very popular in the latter half of the 18th century and even in England later still.  As I said, VOM throws in a good solid performance.  In Corelli's Op.6-4, there are some more dazzling passages that occasionally showcase the concertino players' ability, and VOM does not fail to impress.

The solo concertos.  Bach's double violin concerto is one of the most-played pieces of the classical repertoire.  VOM treading familiar ground is probably a homage to one of the greatest composers of all time.  I would have preferred more exotic pieces, but you can't go wrong with BWV 1043 either.  VOM had finesse and vitality, such that the performance was never dull.

The only minor issue I had was Vivaldi's double cello concerto.  It's not the playing of the cellists, because they were completely outstanding.   It was more of the sound of the Baroque cello that I couldn't quite get used to.  Sitting on the 2nd floor balcony, the sound was very thin, almost like a gamba.  The bass response was weak, and that was a bit unnerving.  I attribute it to two possibilities :  (1) less than ideal room acoustics.   Sitting in the subscription front rows might help.  However, the Baroque violin sound carried through, and normally room modes favor lower frequencies, so this seems counter-intuitive.  This means it could also be that I'm (2) just not used to the Baroque cello sound.  In fact, I don't recall attending a concert where the Baroque cello was featured until now.  Andrew Manze leading the EC played at my school years ago, but that concert venue had very crappy acoustics anyways.        

Anyways, I talked to cellist Mr. Skeen shortly afterward, and he also commented that his cello did have a more mellow sound.   He even said that his cello (with five strings if you look closely at the picture) was actually playing alot of the viola part during the concert.  The instrument's response to a higher range could also explain why it sounded more gamba-esque. 

In summary, an enjoyable evening, and I look forward to more future VOM concerts.

2 comments:

GGs Adventure said...

前兩天也才剛聽了來自灣區的new century chamber的音樂會,不知道你對該團體有無接觸?

(拖了幾天我終於把concert review寫完了,雖然有點草草結束的感覺:P)

Deadlockcp said...

Nope, 不過Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg當然算是蠻有名氣的小提琴家。我看他們表演的曲子,還算有意思耶,綜合了大眾和平常不會聽到的曲目。

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