Friday, September 30, 2011

Wassenaer: Concerti Armonici (Brandenburg Consort/Goodman)

Unico Wilhelm van Wassenaer (1692–1766) 伯爵是十八世紀初荷蘭的貴族,也是個業餘的作曲家。今天他在音樂史上流名的地方,應該就是這一套六首標題「Concerti Armonici」的協奏曲。和Domenico Gallo的奏鳴曲一樣,這些作品一度被誤認為是Pergolesi的作品。當初Stravinsky在寫芭蕾Pulcinella時,也以為參考的是Pergolesi的音樂。

Wassenaer出生於Delden的Twickel城堡內,其家族是荷蘭當時歷史悠久而且俱有影響力的貴族。他父親是外交大使,因此van Wassenaer在十五歲時,就跟隨過父親到德國的杜塞爾多夫(Düsseldorf)。他回到荷蘭的時候,便就讀Leiden大學,並在完成學業之後,展開了一段歐洲之旅(Grand Tour),盛行於當初歐洲的上流社會。拜訪歐洲最重要的幾個有歷史文化的地方,甚至視為是一種成年禮。對於社會地位較低的年輕藝術家和音樂家,這種旅程也讓他們大量接觸不同的東西,為自己以為的創作帶來靈感。



Castle Twickel in Delden


Wassenaer的父親過逝之後,他繼承了一切家裡的財產,也步上父親的路,當起荷蘭的大使,曾被派到巴黎和科隆過。不過,今天我們對他的正業比較沒啥太大興趣,反而是他的副業:音樂。他是和誰學音樂的,今天並不清楚。確定的是,他的好友,Willem Bentinck伯爵,同樣是愛好音樂的貴族。Wassenaer便和他一塊兒定期在他們The Hague的官邸舉辦室內樂音樂會。這張錄音的六協奏曲,大約是在1725到1740年之間,在這些場合下表演的。
    
這些協奏曲的真正作曲家是Wassenaer其實是在近30年來被確認的。那究竟又是為什麼?只好耐性聽段迂迴曲折的小故事吧。當初在荷蘭的社會裡,貴族被視為極尊貴的地位,而音樂家,則是地位相差甚多的職業。雖然許多歐洲皇室也是業餘的作曲家,但他們的音樂是不會流到市面上的,一來被說是不務正業,二來和音樂家被聯想在一塊兒可說是可恥的。當初Wassenaer堅持不讓別人知道這些音樂是出自他手的,是情有可原。

後來這些協奏曲被音樂家好友Carlo Ricciotti於1740年出版,並在譜上標名是獻給Willem Bentinck伯爵。英國Walsh的版本中,則是直接寫說Ricciotti是作曲家。到了十九世紀,不知怎麼,先是以為是韓德爾的作品,但最終成了是Pergolesi的音樂。二十世紀初,這些協奏曲便被稱為是「Pergolesi的小協奏曲」。一直到1979,當學者Albert Dunning在整理Twickel城堡的歷史檔案時,才赫然發現並幾乎百分之百肯定Wassenaer才是真正的作曲家。

Wassenaer見識多廣,音樂風格呈現出他是個大都會型的作曲家。不過既然是合奏協奏曲,所以參考的對象仍以義大利Corelli的大協奏曲為主。這六首協奏曲的編制是給四支小提琴,一支中提琴,還有數字低音。這種編制在韋瓦第有名的作品三,以及Locatelli的作品七當中就出現過了。這些協奏曲,在當時荷蘭就頗受歡迎,而在英國更是受到熱烈的回響。

Wassenaer的Concerti Armonici,每一首都是四個樂章,「慢-快-慢-快」的形式。六首協奏曲,只有第五號是小調,剩下五首都是大調。它們的開頭第一樂章為慢的,通常結束是引導進入下一樂章。第二樂章是對位性質的,有的氣氛輕鬆,有的稍微凝重些,但音樂流動永遠順暢。第三樂章,通常是協奏曲裡旋律最唯美的一段,有時二小提琴和大提琴的三重奏對話,最是迷人。而許多第四樂章,則是採舞曲節奏,以最活潑的姿態收場。整體而言,Wassenaer的這些協奏曲旋律性強,和聲簡易清楚。講明白點,就是聽了極為神清氣爽,容易入耳的音樂。

Roy Goodman帶領的Brandenburg Consort,之前在他們Corelli大協奏那張專輯有介紹過。在這兒,他們的演奏風格依舊,小而美,小而巧。他們的數字低音,有Alastair Ross在大鍵琴和風琴間切換,以及David Miller彈奏archlute,theorbo,或吉他這三種撥絃樂器。光是這幾樣樂器組合的不同音色,就足以能營造出不同的氣氛。更重要的是,他們的演奏速度我非常欣賞,慢的地方能夠讓音樂持續進行,而快的樂章,不走大樂團雄厚的路線,更有小編制的輕盈。市面上的古樂錄音,有Koopman指揮的Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra,以及Kevin Mallon指的Aradia Ensemble,但他們的編制屬較大的,演奏鬆散了些,不像Brandenburg Consort那麼專注集中。特別是,Brandenburg Consort在長音裡大小聲變化的處理,恰如其分。我應該慶幸,手邊Wassenaer的第一個版本即為Goodman的Brandenburg Consort,更襯托出了音樂的清新感,證明出業餘的作曲家也能寫出不錯的東西。

Count Unico Wilhelm van Wassenaer, was first and foremost, a Dutch aristocrat and ambassador.  His claim to fame in music history is the set of six concertos, titled "Concerti Armonici" that was formerly attributed to Pergolesi (as are many other works.   In fact, only 10% of the works were true works written by him).   It was only until as late as 1979 that these concertos were correctly (almost certainly) identified to be composed by Wassenaer.

The reason why it took so long to find out who they truly belonged to was because it was considered to be below a nobelman's dignity to publish music, at least in the Netherlands.  Wassenaer composed these concertos to have them performed in the house concerts of either his residence or that of fellow music-loving Count Willem Bentinck.  Their good friend who often played first violinist, Italian Carlo Ricciotti, published these works in 1740, claiming that the composer was an "illustrious hand".  In a version published by the notorious John Walsh, he directly had Ricciotti listed as the composer.  By the 19th century, at one point it was attributed to Handel, but later settled to Pergolesi.  In the early 20th century, they were known as "Pergolesi's concertinos".  When Stravinsky was asked to compose his neoclassical Pulcinella, he took a movement from this set (the last movement of the 2nd concerto) thinking it was by Pergolesi.  It took another few decades before scholar Albert Dunning discovered the manuscript in Wassenaer's Twickel Castle in Delden.

These string concertos are scored for 4 violins, viola, and bass continuo.  This scoring is not exactly novel, as other Italian composers such as Vivaldi and Locatelli have written concertos like this before.  These string concertos were quite popular during its time in the Netherlands, but not surprisingly, these pieces were immensely well-received in England.  As a diplomat, Wassenaer's exposure to different places and cultures must have also shaped his music into a cosmopolitan style.  These concertos though, are modeled after the Roman Corelli concerti grossi. 

All of the Concerti Armonici consist of 4 movements, "slow - fast - slow - fast" structure.   The introductory slow first movement usually ends in a way that leads directly to the second fast fugal movement.  The mood is different for each concerto, some more cheerful and others more serious.  The third slow movement contains the hauntingly beautiful episodes, sometimes employing a trio dialogue between the 2 violins and cello.  And finally the 4th movement, most lively, as it is most dance-like as well.  These Wassenaer concertos are fresh and light, melodic and harmonically straightforward and pleasing.  Their purpose wasn't supposed to sound esoteric and serious, as it was supposed to provide pleasure and relief to these aristocrats, and pleasing it is.  Of all 6 concertos, on the 5th one is in minor.  While the other 5 ones are beautiful, the very different F minor concerto does stand out, and was even Wassenaer's personal favorite.   

There are a few period performances out there, including this one by the Brandenburg Consort, Koopman's Amsterdam Baroque, and Kevin Mallon's Aradia Ensemble, based in Toronto.  I've previously expressed delight in how the Brandenburg Consort played the Corelli Op.6.  I stand by my same opinion and enthusiasm here.  Compared to the other two ensembles, Brandenburg goes for a smaller cast, and because of such, sound lighter and more focused.  Comparing samples, I felt that the other two orchestras were a bit heavy and loose in some of their playing.  Brandenburg Consort adopt brisk tempi and lively playing for the fast sections, and the slow movements are treated with grace.  Brandenburg Consort also also has fun changing between the different continuo combinations, Alastair Ross either on the harpsichord or organ, and David Miller with the choice of archlute, theorbo, and guitar.  The texture sets up the mood of the various movements well.  I'm also quite satisfied at how they shape their long notes in the slow movements with good taste of messa di voce, rarely overdone.  With these string concertos, the style of the performing ensemble usually can make it or break it.   I must say then, that I'm glad that this is the version of Wassenaer I own.  Surely recommended.     








No comments:

Post a Comment