Tuesday, March 20, 2012

John Jenkins: Fantasias & Airs (The Locke Consort)

之前和Pollini兄有聊到他那篇Jenkins的四聲部Fantasias,所以這邊加碼回應一篇有關John Jenkins (1592–1678)的音樂。Jenkins是英國巴洛克早期的作曲家,除了經歷了英國內戰的政局動盪年代,也見證和參與了英國音樂曲風的轉變。在他之前,有文藝復興末期的大師William Byrd,而在他之後,有年輕的Purcell正要展露頭腳。

如同許多作曲家一樣,Jenkins早期的生平不詳。他的父親是木匠,而Jenkins很有可能是在Anne Russell伯爵夫人的家中接受他的音樂訓練的,因為他日後在她的門下當音樂家與老師。後來,Jenkins在另兩位貴族世家Derham與Le Strange之間穿梭,哪需要他就去哪兒。

英國內戰的時候,Jenkins在英國鄉下的貴族家中渡過。他的作曲家好友William Lawes,則是自願去從軍了,並不幸死在戰場上。Jenkins在這段期間教的學生之中,今天最常被提到的是Roger North。他出生於男爵之家,後來成了律師,不過他同時是位業餘的音樂家。他的著作中詳細地記載了十七世紀中英國的音樂,是今天研究英國巴洛克音樂不可多得的寶典。North後來寫了為師Jenkins的傳記,提供給音樂學家要研究Jenkins的重要資料。

王政復辟(Restoration)之後,Jenkins有在Charles二世的宮廷裡當theorbo樂手。雖然這是個享有殊榮的職位,不過Jenkins似乎參與度並不高。他做沒幾年就退休了,晚年再度回到鄉下貴族的家裡去養老。他死於Sir Philip Wodehouse在Kimberley, Norfolk的家中。

不同於前輩Byrd與晚輩Purcell的多才多藝,能夠為各種音樂形式(宗教音樂,器樂曲,鍵盤音樂等)創作,Jenkins的作品幾乎清一色是純器樂曲。他在器樂曲的產量驚人,今天留下了有八百多首曲子之多。承接了英國的consort music,Jenkins尤其以viol的fantasias見長,為viol consort寫了四,五,及六聲部的音樂。

到了Jenkins的晚年,consort music這種多聲部的複音音樂在英國漸漸沒落了。取而代之的,是從義大利傳過來的的三重奏鳴曲。為了迎合正在轉變的音樂風格,Jenkins也開始寫三聲部的器樂曲。這張錄音的15首fantasia–air組合,便是Jenkins這時期的作品。

簡單的fantasia–air組合,其實源自前輩John Coprario的fantasia–suite。他在Charles一世的宮廷時,決定將對位性質的fantasia後面,再加上兩首舞曲,兩拍的almain與三拍的galliard(後來換成了corant)。Jenkins對這種音樂形式相當熟悉,身己也寫了不少fantasia–suite。之後,他再將這個形式簡化,用一首air代替原先的兩首舞曲。

這些fantasia–air,是為兩個高音部,一個低音部,與風琴伴奏。他的早期fantasia–air的高音部多是用treble viol演奏,但這張錄音上的音樂屬Jenkins晚年作品,用小提琴演奏亦稱職。這些fantasia形式自由,是幾個不同段落組合而成的,簡短的主題一一被引進,並在各聲部之間傳來傳去,做相互的模仿及呼應。有時,bass viol會來一段小獨秀,在華麗的音樂盛宴裡做一個間奏。無論是怎樣的手法,每一段之間的銜接是流暢而自然,為Jenkins厲害之處。而緊接著的air,是較輕快的曲子,跟之前性質屬比較認真的fantasia不同。這些air皆為規律的四拍音樂,不同於fantasia不受任何限制,可在二,三,四拍之間做任意的切換。。

不同於Jenkins早期為viol consort寫的fantasia,這些fantasia的音樂主題相對較短,而且對位手法的複雜程度也都被簡化。照Roger North的記載,復辟後的英國君主Charles二世對傳統的英國fantasia極不能接受,因為他無法對著它們打拍子。這也難怪,因為文藝復興時期的複音音樂除了主題抓不著,而且多聲部接的對話也容易拍子混亂。 因此,Jenkins的這些音樂,相當有可能是為取悅Charles二世的音樂喜好而寫的,也反應出英國正在改變的音樂潮流。

The Locke Consort的四位成員分別來自不同的國家(英,美,德,荷),不過他們主攻的是十七世紀的英國巴洛克音樂。他們的編制為兩把小提琴,一把古中提琴,以及theorbo。他們的演奏強悍奔放,少了英式傳統的保守與內斂。對於音樂的處理,從他們的力道中讓我聽到一種貫徹力,是我在接觸英國古樂先前沒有感受過的。這種演奏,一方面來自高音部是交給小提琴,使得可做出更大的起伏,但其二是演奏者本身。他們讓我想到London Baroque室內樂團,但他們所帶的能量卻更高。我不記得有哪個樂團演奏英國早期巴洛克室內樂,能如此讓我維持注意力。

雖然Jenkins的fantasia–air的伴奏理應是由風琴彈奏,不過Jenkins本身是theorbo手。而彈theorbo的Fred Jacobs在冊子裡說,在theorbo上彈Jenkins的數字低音部,幾乎會覺得是為它量身訂作的。而撥絃的聲音,取代了風琴的莊嚴感,讓音樂更是動了起來。

Jenkins的曲風沒有像同輩William Lawes和之後的Mathew Locke和Purcell那麼大膽前衛。不過,他的音樂,以華麗的氣氛和如歌般的主題取勝。也難怪,Jenkins的音樂在當時的業餘音樂家中極受歡迎。而The Locke Consort的表現,更是錦上添花,讓他的音樂更加迷人,是少數幾張讓我真的很享受的英國巴洛克音樂錄音。

It's been a while since I've gone back to the Brits, so here's John Jenkins, the early Baroque English composer who lived through England's political turmoil, including the Civil War, the Commonwealth, and ultimately the Restoration.  In terms of music, he also witnessed the changing styles happening in early-to-mid 17th century England, from the late Renaissance to the emerging Baroque style.  He represents one of the figures that bridged the late Renaissance greats such as William Byrd and the brief meteoric appearance of Henry Purcell.

Like many composers, details of Jenkins' early life are unclear.  He was born to a carpenter father, and it is most likely that he reserved his musical training while at the household of Anne Russell, Countess of Warwick, where he later served as a musician and teacher.  Later, he was associated with the other two families of Derham and Le Strange, going back and forth between the two, depending when his services were needed.

At the time of the English Civil War, like many other musicians, he sought employment and refuge with the noble families staying in the countryside.  His good friend William Lawes, on the other hand, joined the army and died in battle.  One of Jenkins' many aristocrat students was Roger North, who is mainly known today for documenting that particular English period, in particular the music performance practices.  His accounts have been important for today's scholars in understanding English Baroque music.  Many details of Jenkins' life are known through North's writings.

During the Restoration, Jenkins was employed as a theorbo player in the court of Charles II.  Although deemed a prestigious post, it seems that Jenkins did not participate actively in his post.  He retired to the countryside shortly after. He died in the household of Sir Philip Wodehouse at Kimberley, Norfolk.

Unlike the talented William Byrd or Henry Purcell, who composed music for all genres in all known forms, Jenkins's works are, by and large, chamber instrumental music.  He has left an impressive amount of 800+ instrumental compositions behind.  As a continuation of the English Renaissance tradition, Jenkins continued to write music for the viol consort, composing 4-part, 5-part, and 6-part  fantasias.  Later in his life, when polyphony gradually fell out of favor, Jenkins adapted his music to suit the Italian trio sonata texture.  These 15 fantasia-air pairs, were written during this period.

This fantasia-air combination, originates from the fantasia-suite, created by predecessor John Coprario.  In the earlier form, the freer fantasia was followed by two dance, the almain and the galliard (later replaced by the newer corant).  Jenkins was very familiar with this form and composed a number of these pieces.  The fantasia-air evolved out of replacing the two dances with one air.

The fantasias differ from his earlier polyphonic viol consort fantasias in that the themes and motifs are much shorter, and the counterpoint is simplified greatly.  Roger North writes that Charles II "had an utter detestation of Fancys... He could not bear any musick to which he could not keep time."  That sums up the early English consort music: when polyphony is in full flight, the clear theme and beats are pretty much lost.  

The fantasia-air are scored for two trebles, one bass, and organ continuo.  While Jenkins' earlier pieces are performed with the treble viol, but the later works suit the violin better and are thus played this way in the recording.  The free-flowing fantasia is made up of multiple sections, where short motifs are introduced and passed and imitated between the parts.  Occasionally there will be a solo interlude passage for the bass viol, where the treble voices proceed to kick-start something either based on the bass theme or something entirely new.  The different sections of the fantasias connect together so smoothly and unknowingly that one has to marvel at Jenkins' mastery of the form.  The air that follows is a lighter piece, and always in common time, and easier to beat time to.  The fantasia, in contrast, besides being more serious in mood, also is free to switch between time-signatures, many of them which have triple-time passages.

The Locke Consort is truly an international ensemble, with the four members coming from different countries (U.K., U.S.A., Germany, Holland).  Their instruments consist of 2 violins, one bass viol, and the theorbo.  Even though Jenkins calls for organ in the original scoring, he was a theorbo player.  Fred Jacbos, the theorbist of the group, comments that the organ part fits the theorbo perfectly.  The effect is a mood that can alternate between the composed and lively but not too solemn.

The Locke Consort has a focused and intense sound, which is often lacking in the polite playing found in many English groups.  In their playing, I sense a conviction and execution of the music that I always find missing in listening to English Baroque music.  This might help from the fact that they play on the violin, which allows them to do more with the shaping, but it also has a lot to do with Locke's own playing.  They remind me of the London Baroque, but with an even higher energy.  In fact, I don't recall any other ensemble playing English Baroque music that was able to capture my attention as much as the Locke Consort.

Jenkins' music isn't as bold as his contemporary William Lawes or the later Purcell.  However, his music has florid passages that have grace and charm that is unrivaled among the English Baroque composers.  It is no wonder that his music has been immensely popular for the amateur musicians of his time. The Locke Consort's treatment is really the icing on the cake, and this remains one of my most enjoyable English Baroque recordings.

















2 comments:

Deadlockcp said...

pollini has left a new comment on your post "John Jenkins: Fantasias & Airs (The Locke Consort)...":

Deadlockcp兄果然詳盡地寫出了John Jenkins的音樂和當時的音樂環境。拜讀大作,獲益良多。
您放的音樂比之John Jenkins更早的多聲部合奏曲更容易入手,時代風潮的轉變依然在John Jenkins身上留下痕跡。他的多聲部曲,我還在咀嚼消化的階段,目前還未排入寫作計畫中。

Deadlockcp said...

嗯,Jenkins的作品裡,這張也是我最喜歡的。那些早期的多聲部曲子,還真的需要一些時間好好消化 :)

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