Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Leclair: Violin Sonatas Book 1 (Op.1) Nos.1-4 (Butterfield/McGillivray/Cummings)

Jean-Marie Leclair (1697-1764),之前在這兒有稍微介紹過他。他是法國當時最重要的小提琴家,算是法國小提琴學派的創史人。在他之前雖有其他的作曲家有出版小提琴奏鳴曲,但論作品的素質都遠不及Leclair。Leclair另外史上留名的,應該是他最後的下場。1764年的Leclair已經和老婆分居多年,並在巴黎治安較差的一區買了另一棟房子。有一天他回家時,背部被捅,遇刺身亡。殺他的兇手沒有被找到,至今是個謎。有人說是他前妻,也有人說是他的姪子。

Leclair總共出版了四部小提琴奏鳴曲,分別是作品一,二,五,還有九。雖然四本都有將法式和義式元素結合,達到Couperin所提倡的goûts réunis,但後面三冊是他再度到義大利深造並和Locatelli合作過,因此小提琴技巧上是更上一層樓的難。第一冊的作品一,雖然相較「容易」些,但許多地方仍然還是有挑戰的。

這張CD是英國古樂團隊的小提琴家Adrian Butterfield,大提琴/古中提家Alison McGillivray,還有大鍵琴家Laurence Cummings挑戰錄Leclair完整的作品一奏鳴曲的第一張,並總共花了三張CD。這張收錄了第一號到第四號奏鳴曲。Leclair在作品一所參考的是當時歐洲寫小提琴奏鳴曲的音樂家都用的不二範本:Corelli的作品五奏鳴曲。Leclair奏鳴曲所用的樂章標題,都是義大利的速度標題,如Allegro,Andante,Adagio等,連舞曲樂章也都是義式,而不是法式的標法,如Corrente,Gavotta,還有Giga。不過,Leclair的奏鳴曲規模比Corelli更大,音樂點子都發展地更完整。而且Leclair的小提琴奏鳴曲讓我感覺是用心之作,因為素質高,贅音少,和聲豐富,也不像Corelli會一直聽到重覆性的主題。每一首奏鳴曲,都是獨特的。

法式的精神,除了在某些樂章的裝飾音中可以看出來,也在樂章中加入法國特有的rondeau曲式。不過,感到Leclair最法式的表現,是音樂本身的優雅。應該說,雖然他寫的音樂有困難,但演奏起來那麼漂亮,會讓人有錯覺,以為是容易。這和義大利的作曲家大不同,因為他們會直接,很刻意寫得讓人一聽就知道是要賣弄技巧。如果硬要將義大利派比做是土匪,光天化日之下直接砍人,那Leclair就是美女刺客,在享受她的懷抱的同時,怎麼被暗殺的都不知道。

這四首奏鳴曲裡,第一號是A小調,個性比較灰暗,特別是開頭Adagio立刻營造出嚴肅的氣氛。接下來第二樂章的Allemanda實在很美,尤其是Butterfield在樂句轉折的時候的停頓實在恰到好處,令我印象特別深刻。第一號的第三樂章Aria,也是這張CD上最有法國風的一個樂章。第三號的第二樂章Allegro,則是個充滿活力的曲子,斷奏頻頻。第四號,除了五個樂章比平常多一個之外,第四樂章的Gavotta 開頭非常動感,甚至令我想要起來共舞。

Butterfield的演奏速度平緩,在CD小冊中解釋說Leclair自己寫說「Allegro並不是指一個很快的樂章;我要的是個快樂的樂章。」Butterfield的拉法斷句較沒那麼鮮明,樂句處理連續而甜美,音樂裡技巧困難的地方,Butterfield輕描淡寫就帶過去了,不特別去突顯這個層面,而呈現出法式音樂的華麗和高貴。和其他小提琴家下弓較重,斷句多,相較之保守,但說不定其實更接近Leclair所要的感覺。記得,Corelli的小提琴奏鳴曲也不是靠著賣弄技巧出名,而是以漂亮的琴聲和音樂線來感動人的。

這張專輯,對於想要認識Leclair的小提琴奏鳴曲的人,是我非常推薦的錄音。

Even though there have been other French composers before Leclair that have published violin sonatas in France, their impact and overall quality do not come anywhere close to Leclair's 4 books of violin sonatas.  Therefore, Leclair's title as the "founder of French violin school" is undisputed.  Having reviewed a recording of his supposedly lighter works before here, this recording here gets to the meat of his compositions: his first book of violin sonatas.

Leclair's first book (Op.1) were written before his second journey to Italy and his collaboration with Locatelli, where he would absorb and update himself on the latest in violin techniques.  The later three books supposedly have more requirements and challenges for the performer.  However, this first book is demanding in its own right!

This disc is the first of three in what I believe is the first complete recording of Leclair's op.1 violin sonatas, by British period musicians Adrian Butterfield (violin), Alison McGillivray (gamba), and Laurence Cummings (harpsichord).  This CD contains the first 4 sonatas of the book.

Leclair's Op.1 is modeled after what most people in Europe modeled after at the time: Corelli's Op.5 violin sonatas.  The Italian references are evident: Italian movement markings (e.g. Allegro, Andante..) and more importantly, Italian spellings of the dances (Allemanda, Gavotta, Giga, etc.).  The French elements are more implicit and inherent, such as the rondeau form in many sonatas and overall style.  Leclair's sonatas are generally longer and more expansive than Corelli's sonatas, where the musical ideas are more developed and thought-out.  I also feel that these works are carefully crafted.   The works are maturely written, have exceptionally high quality, no extra wasted notes, and colorful harmony.  Unlike Corelli, where there are some short motifs he keeps reusing in many of his works, Leclair's sonatas always seem fresh.     

Leclair's sonatas don't try to prove or show outright that they are hard to play.  His double and triple stops and other challenges blend seamlessly into the music.  There is a grace in Leclair's sonatas that separate him from his Italian contemporaries.  The Italian violin sonatas do not conceal any of the pyrotechnics, and even the untrained ear can spot the term "showoff".  If you liken the Italian violin sonata to the bank robber, directly confronting the manager and taking away all the money, Leclair's sonatas are like the brilliant thief in the heist movies: only the following day will the managers know what hit them. 

Of these four sonatas, the darker and more serious No.1 seems to stand out, the mood set immediately by the opening Adagio.  However, the following Allemanda is of sorrow but of charm.  The twists of the musical line, executed with little hesitations by Butterfield, is simply beautiful and caught my ear the most.  The slow Aria movement, incidentally, is also the most French in nature.  The third sonata contains a vibrant second movement with deliberate staccato indications.  However, the Gavotta from the 4th sonata, with its opening tempo, is what really can get you moving, of course, with its multiple stops .     

Adrian Butterfield and his team play at a steady pace, having explained in the booklet that Leclair explicitly wrote that when he indicated Allegro, it didn't want a very fast movement, rather than a merry one.  Butterfield's playing is smooth and poised, refraining from stronger accents and attacks that other violinists would prefer.  The technical passages are treated with ease, as if it were just another ordinary note.  He may not be as dramatic as others, but in this respect Butterfield maybe embodies Leclair's original intent of showing the elegance and refinement in the music without the extra pompousness.  It's important to note that the Italian master Corelli himself also refrained from emphasizing the technical challenges, instead focusing on the cantabile musical line and the beauty of the violin tone.   

Great playing and nice addition to the repertoire of Leclair recordings. 




1 comment:

Ever a Fan of Biber said...

An interesting reading. The "relaxed" demeanor expressed through the music I don't find as convincing as readings with a tad more movement. Compared to François Fernandez, I preferred the Monsieur Fernandez's reading (with harpsichordist Pierre Hantai). Their release was not, however, complete, to my knowledge (on Astree).

Simon Standage has been a champion of Leclair's music, with many recordings of concertos on Chandos. It was through him, first, that I began to admire Leclair's style and fitness as a composer.

I have been enjoying in respectable sips the reading by Patrick Bismuth with his ensemble 'La Tempesta.' He substitutes flute for two sonatas, which is okay, I expect, but the flute performances pale in comparison to those on violin.

In ways not dissimilar to Locatelli, Leclair's technical prowess only increases with the age of his works, along with the extension of the playable gamut of the instrument.

I suspect he was among the most avante garde of the French baroque. Keeping up with the Italians was serious business.

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