Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Vivaldi: Concerti con molti istromenti (The King's Consort)

當初小時候就那麼愛聽巴洛克音樂,八成以上都該歸功於韋瓦第。當時自己手邊的巴洛克音樂裡,一半以上都是他的協奏曲。那麼重要的一位作曲家,到了最近我真的大量聽古樂時,反而變成我最忽略的一位。


為什麼會這樣,我目前想得出兩個合理的解釋:

(1) 對音樂形式口胃變了。以前喜歡威尼斯樂派(Vivaldi)的協奏曲,近來喜歡規模小一點的內室樂,要不然就是大協奏曲。如要聽器樂協奏曲,那我會聽Telemann的。

(2) 對音樂演奏方式口胃變了。小時候沒那麼挑,覺得現代樂器還有浪漫的拉法可接受,但今天已受不了那種風格了。許多早期購買Vivaldi的CD都是現代樂器版,因此就這樣都冰凍起來了。而且,在增加曲目和增加演奏版本的選擇之下,寧可去買買新的音樂來聽聽。重新買一次古樂版的動力沒那麼大。

我不能否認的是, 韋瓦第音樂的魅力在,儘管用過於浪漫或是過於保守的方式演奏,仍然動聽。他將威尼斯樂派的三樂章獨奏樂器協奏曲給完美化,創造出樂團和獨奏樂器之間的對比,而獨奏樂器自己的橋段,可以展現技巧,也可以展現出感性的一面,演奏的時候實在是戲劇效果十足的音樂。難怪後來古典發展,協奏曲會是最受歡迎的形式之一。

韋瓦第音樂的古樂版錄音,近幾年也如雨後春筍般跑出來,多到讓無法追縱。他的音樂,更是這些高能量古樂團容易找到可以好好發揮的地方。要多大膽,要多誇張,要多令人震驚,似乎是沒有上限的。同時,不想搞那麼暴力的,還是有中庸一點的詮釋。他的音樂趣味性夠高,就算收斂一點還是可以被廣大聽眾接受和欣賞。

受了許多恩惠,在這兒要和這位大師致敬。這張CD收錄的協奏曲,不是Vivaldi最常聽到的小提琴協奏曲,而是con motli istromenti,也是「為多樂器」的協奏曲。晚期巴洛克的義大利協奏曲,以獨奏樂器為主,並鮮少有多於兩件獨奏樂器的協奏曲。反觀,在德語系的國家裡,一方面因為管樂器的普遍,這種編制倒還蠻常見到的。

Vivaldi在義大利的作曲家裡,為多樂器所寫的協奏曲其實不少。 他寫這些協奏曲的動機可能是有某些特殊的場合,或是給指定的樂團。韋瓦第這位「紅髮牧師」曾經多年在Ospedale della Pietà孤兒修道院教音樂。修道院裡女學生的音樂素質極高,可媲美專業音樂家。而且多才多藝,一人同時會好幾種樂器。也因為這樣,Pietà修道院收集了各式各樣的樂器,無奇不有,有些在義大聽境內是聽都沒聽過的。Pietà道修院每次教堂禮拜做完了,甚至還有純器樂曲的表演,行成一種特有文化。恰好路過的旅人,對儀式後的音樂盛宴直驚呼不可思議。女學生表演音樂的時候,因為考慮到修道院的端莊禮節,所以都隔著一層布,不讓觀眾看到。這樣的規矩,能夠使樂章間或不同協奏曲之間,音樂家可以偷換不同的樂器;聽眾們則在無預警下聽到新樂器響起,驚喜的效果十足。

韋瓦第有些多樂器協奏曲,肯定是為Pietà修道院所寫。當然,別的可能性,如歌劇院或是盛大的宗教儀式的場合,或是給其他德國的大樂團,也不能排除掉。重要的是,這些曲子的編制實在都很有創意,而且任何一刻哪個樂器要出現我們也都不確定。韋瓦第也很聰明,不會掉進公式化的圈套之中,所以從頭到尾都讓聽眾猜不透。有些樂器,今天甚至已經失傳,像是viole all'inglese(英國中提琴)和violin "in tromba marina"(改造成像是tromba marina的小提琴。Tromba marina是中古世紀的一種單絃提琴,有翻譯為「海號單絃琴」。想聽這樂器有多吵,可以點youtube這邊的連結)。如果第一和第三樂章各樂器齊發聲是白天熱鬧的市集,那有些協奏曲裡的第二樂章裡則是打烊後空蕩蕩的廣場,舞台只留下Vivaldi最愛的小提琴獨奏,拉出哀傷的旋律,或是甜美的小曲。

這張CD上的協奏曲,各各編制奇特,在各種樂器間做排列組合。RV555 C大調的協奏曲聲勢最是浩大,樂器有兩支直笛,雙簧管,chalumeau(像單簧管的巴洛克樂器),小提琴,兩支viole all'inglese,兩隻violin in tromba marina,還有兩台大鍵琴,多到眼花瞭亂 ~~  其他的雖沒有像這首那麼豐富,但除去RV781給兩支小號的外,也至少也有五件以上!

韋瓦第音樂的個人風格獨特,就算要在一千位巴洛克作曲家裡挑,也不可能選錯。而韋瓦第和韓德爾相似,將同樣的材料置入不同的協奏曲樂章裡,有時不免會覺得很多音樂都似曾相似。但這些協奏曲光考樂器總類音色的不同,像是個萬花茼,就足夠能成功地引起我的注意力。

而錄這張專輯的樂團,為英國樂團,是由Robert King帶領他所創的The King's Consort。除了是古樂的專家,King還為幾部大片寫過配樂,如「神鬼奇航」,「史瑞克2」,以及「達文西密碼」。他比較不風光的一面,是他利用他在音樂界的權威和聲望,犯下多起性侵青少年音樂家的事件。他的音樂生涯一度被中斷,但出獄之後又立刻恢復。如真能將個人操守和專業分開,那King在Purcell還有Vivaldi的貢獻上其實不小,在Hyperion廠牌有錄有二位完整的宗教音樂。

The King's Consort表演風格,不會像Vivaldi幾世紀後的義大利後輩音樂家如此狂野豪放,但在古樂演奏的匡架中,演奏也相當深情,有朝氣。唯一小不麼滿意的,是當我聽到RV562協奏曲第三樂章末小提琴的裝飾奏的時候,覺得這個琴音和風格一定在哪兒聽過。一看CD冊子,結果發現第一小提琴正是由Elizabeth Wallfisch女士擔任的。她獨奏的時候,就是不習慣她整體的音色和拉法。少掉個人對Wallfisch女士的這個小偏見外,這張韋瓦第協奏曲之響宴,是值得任何人前來享用的~~~ 

I owe my developing love for Baroque music while I was growing up to not Bach, Handel, or Telemann, but Vivaldi.  Vivaldi was arguably my most listened to Baroque composer when I was in grade school or middle school.  I would attempt snatch up any recording of music that I hadn't seen in any CD store I visited in Taiwan in the early 1990s (nod from my parents of course).  My Baroque collection was probably 80% Vivaldi.

In recent years, after my increasing dedication to early music, however, Vivaldi has been largely ignored by me.  A few things have changed over the years, which can explain why this has happened.
(1) I've started to favor chamber sonatas more than the Venetian solo concertos.  Even If I were to listen to orchestral works, I would favor the concerto grosso or a Telemann concerto.
(2) I've shifted my preference to period performances.  Most of my early Vivaldi collection was played on modern instruments.  While enjoyable back then, it is much less so today.  I'm also hesitant to re-buy period instrument versions of all the existing music, when I have the chance to explore new music out there.  (Biondi's recording of Op.8 was an exception.)

Looking back at the performances of early music, the fact that I could still enjoy Vivaldi's music so much despite overly romantic and conservative approaches of the early days is really a testament to Vivaldi's ability to write captivating music.  Unlike other composers, Vivaldi didn't necessarily need the theatrics of some of these supercharged period ensembles.  Although, an extra kick makes the music even more spicy and exciting!

Occasionally I still scout out for interesting Vivaldi concertos that I don't already own modern versions of.  This CD played by the King's Consort includes an interesting selection of concertos titled "con molti istromenti" meaning "for multiple instruments."  Instrumental scoring like these were rare in Italy but much more common in Germany, a fact we are told, that wind instruments were scarcer south of the Alps, for whatever reason.  By contrast though, Vivaldi wrote quite a few of these concertos - 30 or so survive.

Since these pieces could not have been composed on a regular basis, it must have been for specific occasions or instrumental groups.  One group he no doubt composed for was the Ospedale della Pietà, the orphanage and convent our "Red Priest" has been most associated with.  He held a teaching post to there and taught many of these girls how to play the violin.  Word has it that these young ladies were one of the best instrumental ensembles out there, and many even mastered several instruments at the same time.  Pietà would have an enormous collection of instruments, some of them unheard of in Italy.  Vivaldi would have loved to write concertos for these strange instruments.

Other occasions cited were at the opera, or at large church festivals, where large orchestras would be recruited.  Last but not least, these concertos could have been targeted for the German orchestras, as they would be more at home with these pieces.

The concertos recorded here include an assortment and variety of solo instruments: violin, oboe, recorder, bassoon, chalumeau, horn, trumpet, harpsichord...  Some instruments are extinct, such as the viole all'inglese and violin 'in tromba marina.'  The King's Consort have taken liberties to emulate what the instrument would have sounded like.  (For a sound of the 'tromba marina', which one of the violins was trying to emulate, you can check it out on youtube here.  It's pretty boisterous. )

Besides the concerto for two trumpets, the remaining concertos have at least 5 solo instruments.   Concerto RV 555, by far the grandest, is written for two recorders, oboe, chalumeau, violin, two viole all'inglese, two violins 'in tromba marina', two harpsichords, and strings!  If Vivaldi's style is recognizable and somewhat predictable, the music itself is interesting just for the range of tone colors created by the variety of different instruments.  In the outer movements, with all the possibilities, Vivaldi keeps the audience guessing by having the instruments come in at different times.  In some of the slower movements, however, the ensemble is reduced to just a few string or continuo parts, and it is the solo violin singing either a sorrowful or sweet melody.    


The King's Consort is conducted by Robert King, British early music specialist who also contributed to certain Hollywood blockbuster soundtracks such as Pirates of the Carribean, Shrek 2, and the Da Vinci Code.  He was involved in a few scandals, but after release from prison, it seems like he has resumed his musical activities.  The King's Consort was founded in 1980 and have made monumental complete recordings of Pucell and Vivaldi's sacred music.  They aren't as fiery or flashy as some of the Italian period groups, Vivaldi's compatriots three centuries later, but the King's Consort puts in a fine sensuous playing nonetheless.  They are always at service to the music, and in the end, the music shines through.

One other thing that really did caught my attention was the written out violin cadenza in the end of the the RV 562 concerto.  When I heard the playing and the tone quality, I swore I recognized it somewhere.  And among the musicians, there it was, first violinist miss Elizabeth Wallfisch.  Somehow, it wasn't to my complete liking.  Other than that, there's not much I really can complain.  These are some of the most peculiar and interesting concertos written by Vivaldi, and certainly a musical feast to the ears.  








2 comments:

John Hendron said...

What a hidden gem to find in that recording, a written-out cadenza by Wallfisch. Hmm. Not.

It was good of you to note the prison sentence of the conductor. Some members of the original consort now concertize in a new ensemble led by Matthew Halls called the Retrospect Ensemble.

My favorite King's Consort recording was of their Bach Trio Sonatas. It's quite exquisite, and I've used it to test a lot of stereo and hi fi systems.

Mingus said...

前一兩天好像回應被關閉了?

Anyways,Vivaldi 對我而言,很容易被taken for granted,被遺忘、很難寫,但是聽過一堆巴洛克,又發現他的語言風格獨特、變化也多(尤其加上一堆歌劇或聲樂作品來聽),影響也深遠。

最近聽的是 L'art dell'Arco 的mandolin and lute concertos 與 La Magnifica Comunita 的神聖協奏曲集。都很合現今的古樂風,很義大利式的流暢奔放,但是注重美感,不會過於疾風競火。

Post a Comment