Tuesday, September 20, 2011

J.S. Bach: Toccatas BWV 910 - 916 (van Asperen)

 「知識就是力量」,相信巴哈知道這個道理。年輕的巴哈是個勤學不倦的好學生,練就了一身「吸音大法」,廣大吸收了各國音樂曲風。少年巴哈已是個厲害鍵盤手,不僅了解南歐Frescobaldi開始的鍵盤學派(由Froberger傳至德國),熟悉北歐Sweelinck為首的學派(Buxtehude為最主要的代表),更通曉法國鍵盤曲的風格。1717年,巴哈在德勒斯登(Dresden)時,受邀和法國鍵盤手Louis Marchand比試鍵盤技巧。當時實際情況是怎樣,因為文獻中加油添醋,所以歷史學家多有保留,但大家普遍接受的說法是Marchand最後一刻怯戰而先行離開回到巴黎了。這不戰之戰,也讓巴哈一「戰」成名,在德語國家流傳了開。

如果當初的較量真的發生了,多半會是巴哈勝。「知己知彼,百戰百勝」,巴哈熟知法國的曲風,但Marchand在法國,卻鮮少會接觸義式的曲子,所以直接是處於劣勢。巴哈對於義式與德式的即興與對位性質的音樂,當然也是瞭若指掌。這張專輯BWV 910到916的七首觸技曲(toccata),便是年輕二十幾歲的巴哈在威瑪(Weimar)時期所寫的作品,是對南歐和北歐的觸技曲文化的致敬,體悟,以及貫通。

這七首觸技曲,巴哈年輕氣盛時的產物,有一種無比充沛的精力。不管在快速仿即興風的地方,或是對位的部份,音樂都直接而毫無掩飾,有一種坦率感,和巴哈成熟時期作品的深層醞釀感有所不同。這些觸技曲,不禁讓我想起布拉姆斯早期那些精湛的鋼琴變奏曲,簡直是要將樂器征服一般。巴哈的七首觸技曲所寫的明確時間並不可考,但應該是在1705年1712年之間。這七首曲子並不是一套,但因為性質和創作日期相近,所以今天被歸在一起也是理所當然。


這些觸技曲,少了些早期Frescobaldi那種仿即興和對位段落之間切換的自然和驚喜,但每段發展更完整,以及多了更制式化的曲風。七首觸技曲裡,大部份分主要是分四段:精湛開頭至慢的收尾 - 第一賦格 - 沉思的慢樂章 - 第二賦格。但不是每一首都完全按照這樣的模式;D大調的BWV 912和D小調的BWV 913皆有更多的段落,而G大調的BWV 916只有三段,形式上更像協奏曲,和之後更有名的「義大利協奏曲」有若干相似之處,算是七首裡面最脫軌的一首吧。

剩下六首觸技曲,今天學者多以成熟度和創作日期,將它們兩兩配對,從最早到最晚的,分別為:(1) D大調BWV 912和D小調BWV 913,(2) E小調BWV 914和G小調BWV 915,以及(3)升F小調BWV 910及C小調BWV 911。 從(1)到(3),除了感覺出巴哈漸漸對主題的發展還有切換掌握得更好,也聽得出巴哈在寫慢樂章中慢慢發展出的細膩感,有更深一層的冥想境界。

這張錄音的演奏者是荷蘭派有名大鍵琴師Bob van Asperen,都曾是Leonhardt師祖的學生,和Ton Koopman,Alan Curtis,與Jacques Ogg屬同輩,是當今最有權威性的大鍵琴師之一。van Asperen在巴哈與C.P.E. Bach的大鍵琴協奏曲的錄音當中,可能因為要配合樂團,所以表演比較中規中矩。網上也有人評論他的平均律也是沈思派,所以本來對他的觸技曲原本不是抱著太高的期望。可是聽了線上一些sample之後,大為驚奇,不買反可惜。他也應該是史上唯一錄過兩次這套觸技曲全集
的音樂家吧。這張EMI的是他於1990年所錄的第一個版本,而他在1999年有在Teldec為Bach 2000全集錄過第二次。

這張錄音上,他使用的是德國的Zell大鍵琴,另外的版本則是在另一台德國Mietke的大鍵琴。首先提一下這個錄音的一大缺陷:其中的一個琴鍵,中音升F,彈奏時有很明顯的木頭敲擊聲。他所用的是當時的真的琴,而不是仿製的。我相信錄音師都有意識到這個問題,他們可能覺得用這種有歷史的樂器和效果也是一種特色吧。總之,如果您可以不理會這個問題而專注在van Asperen的表現上,那就不會叫您失望。van Asperen在這些觸技曲當中,充份展現出曲子應有的年輕活力,開頭氣勢磅礡,對位的時每個聲部清楚而且斷句很多,讓音樂又亮又帶勁。和弦琶音的拿捏我也相當欣賞,除了有助於推動音樂,也能有效彰顯樂句的開始和轉折。六十幾分鐘的錄音,精彩無比,對我來說,沒有一刻是無趣的。

愛上這些觸技曲其實是最近幾年的事。 當時畢業的學弟,也算是大鍵琴同門的師兄,今天已是職業的大鍵琴師Mahan Esfahani,回美國開大鍵琴獨奏會,當晚的曲目就是這七首觸技曲。他表演前一週,我為了好好認識這些曲子,所以好好惡補了一下,每想到一聽就愛不釋手。幾個月前我的老師在學校的音樂會中,也表演了E小調BWV 914一首。 有個衝動想要將七首都上傳到youtube,不過還是忍下,挑個幾首給各位品嘗即可。

Young Bach was a diligent student.  As a keyboard virtuoso, he made it a point to learn and absorb every keyboard style there was to know about.  These included the southern style (founded by Frescobaldi), the northern style (attributed to Sweelinck), and of course, the French harpsichord style.

There is a famous story of how Bach was invited to the Dresden courts to challenge famed French harpsichordist and organist Louis Marchand to a keyboard improvisation contest.  Although the stories differ, it is generally believed that Marchand left prematurely and did not compete.  Had it taken place, Bach would have definitely gained the upper hand, being familiar with all the idioms and forms.  By comparison, Marchand would have been fairly limited to the French repertoire. 

The 7 toccatas BWV 910 - 916 were written when Bach was in his 20s when he was in Weimar, most likely around 1705 - 1712.  They show that despite at an early age, Bach had firm understanding and mastery of the toccata tradition.  Although Bach openly admired the northern German keyboard tradition (think Buxtehude), he must have also drawn considerable inspiration from those of the southern style, namely Froberger, who in turn studied with Frescobaldi.  These Bach toccatas almost always have a fast rhapsodic opening, followed by a few fugal sections, spaced out by a slow movement.  In general Bach's toccatas have fewer sections than Frescobaldi's, but each section is more extensive and developed, so therefore they come out longer time-wise. 

The fact that these were pieces written by a young Bach kind of shows in its overall spirit.  They are on the whole, more spirited and energetic pieces.  They are also somewhat show pieces, trying to prove one's keyboard prowess.  It's as if young Bach was trying to make a case that he really conquered the harpsichord.  The style is unmistakably Bach, what's missing are the more serious and inward-looking passages heard in his more mature works.  I cannot help but draw parallelisms between Bach's toccatas and Brahm's early piano music, in particular the formidable sets of variations (on a theme by Paganini, Handel, and Schumann).  

Bob van Asperen is one of the Dutch harpsichordists headed by Leonhardt. More than half of today's prominent harpsichordists probably studied with Leonhardt or his students. van Asperen belongs to the first generation of students that include Ton Koopman, Alan Curtis, and Jacques Ogg, which are established harpsichordists and teachers themselves today. van Asperen is probably the only artist I know that has recorded the entire cycle of Bach keyboard toccatas twice.  This is the earlier recording, done in the early 1990s.  His second recording came in the late 90s on Teldec when they were preparing to release the Bach 2000 set.

Anyways, I have a few of van Asperen's recordings of him playing the harpsichord concertos of  Bach and his son C.P.E. Bach.  In the ensemble setting, I found his playing to be rather safe and modest.  Reviews of van Asperen's recording of the Well-Tempered Clavier also suggested that his playing was more reflective and meditative.  I wasn't so enthusiastic about picking up this set at first, but after I heard just a few samples, it was enough to convince me to go ahead.  van Asperen's treatment of these toccatas is really a joy ride: brisk tempi, full of energy, beautiful articulation and shaping of the music, especially in the fugal sections.  His arpeggiation of the chords is done artistically too, whether it's an emphatic chord to drive the music, or a softer one to signal a phrase turn.  

There is one minor (major, depending on how you look at it) flaw in this recording.  van Asperen uses a historical Zell harpsichord, which happens to have the middle F-sharp key click loudly and annoyingly.  If you can look past this mechanical artifact, then you will treat yourself to tons of exciting music written by young Johann Sebastian.  Originally, I did not know these pieces that well, but after I attended a concert where fellow harpsichord student Mahan Esfahani, now turned professional, played exactly these seven toccatas, I was hooked on for good.  As of late, my teacher Elaine also played the E minor toccata in one of her recitals.  I can literally have the disc repeat over and over and the music never gets old for my ears.

If you want a great recording of all seven toccatas, look no further.  van Asperen is your man.  (His later recording is on a Mietke harpsichord that doesn't have the clicking sound, also recommended.)







2 comments:

Mingus said...

MAK 後期的鍵盤手Berben 版(Ramee) 不知如何,相當好奇。
他用了organ 與harpsichord 兩種鍵盤,應該有他的立據。

Asperen 的兩套CPE 奏鳴曲也極為奔放,不大懂為何有了樂團他立即就壓抑了起來。

Deadlockcp said...

Berben 應該會不錯。我手邊還有Asperen的弟子Menno van Delft的版本,沒有Asperen那麼激動,但也相當漂亮。今天剛從巴黎離開,上飛機前去逛了這兒的一家二手cd店,差點離不開。撿了一些寶,到時有機會再慢慢介紹。

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