Saturday, March 10, 2012

Muffat: Armonico Tributo (Ensemble 415 / Chiara Banchini)

之前寫過奧地利作曲家Auschnaiter的管絃樂作品,是參考Georg Muffat作品的藍圖。在這兒就好好介紹那位前輩吧。Georg Muffat (1653–1704) 是巴洛克中期重要的德奧作曲家。他是第一位將當時法式和義式器樂曲風引進德語國家,並融合在一塊兒的音樂家,為德國音樂開出一條新的活路,使得後來有韓德爾,泰雷曼,與巴哈等這些國際風的德國作曲家。在法國的François Couperin於1724年提倡Les goûts réunis(曲風整合)之前,Muffat早在1682年的時候,就已經出版了這套Armonico Tributo

Muffat其實是在法國的Savoy出身的。他父親是蘇格蘭人,當初祖先為躲避英國伊莉沙白女王的宗教追殺(反天主教)而逃到法國的。Muffat的媽媽則是道地的法國人。

Muffat在十幾歲的時候,便到了巴黎和當時的法國音樂教父盧利(Lully)學習,並接著到了Strasbourg大教堂擔任風琴師。1674年,他在德國巴伐利亞(Bavaria)的Ingolstadt念法律,並輾轉到維也納與布拉格。他得到了神聖羅馬帝國的皇帝Leopold一世的賞識但卻沒被任用,在1678他才落腳於薩爾斯堡,在采邑大主教(prince archbishop) Max Gandolf的宮廷當風琴師。

在這短期間,他得到了主教的允許,到義大利深造。在羅馬,他與當時最有名的義大利鍵盤家Pasquini學習,並同時認識了Pasquini的好友,也是當時最有名的小提琴Corelli。親耳聽見Corelli的大協奏曲,對Muffat印象極深。Muffat在離開前,牛刀小試地寫了幾首作品,也有幸在Corelli家中演出。

這些作品,就是今天1682年,Muffat回到薩爾斯堡時出版的Armonico Tributo,並獻給他的顧主Gandolf。上面的標題,Muffat寫著是「可少數或多數樂器演奏的奏鳴曲」。雖是五聲部的音樂(小提琴 x 2, 中提琴 x 2,數字低音),但是編制可大可小。在大編制下,他參考了Corelli大協奏曲的創作手法,有那典型獨奏樂器群(concertino)的兩支小提琴和大提琴。而其餘的樂團,則在他譜上標示tutti(合奏)的地方應當加入演奏的行列,以製造出音色和大小聲的明顯對比。

義法音樂的元素,在這套Armonico Tributo處處可見。親自和法國和義大利兩位最具代表性的音樂家接觸過,Muffat的體認可想像,是何期之深。除了Corelli的大協奏曲編制和寫法以外,不時會出現的對位手法也是典型的義大利sonata da chiesa(教堂奏鳴曲)形式。而法式的成份,不外乎那些舞曲。雖然法國和義大利都有同樣的舞曲名稱,如Allemande,Courante,Gavotta等,但Muffat在Armonico Tributo裡寫的,光從節奏上,就知道是法式而非義式的舞曲風。

Armonico Tributo共有五首奏鳴曲。前面四首都不算特別長,但第五首最後一樂章為平均演奏時間為十分鐘的Passacaglia舞曲。這首Passacaglia,算是今天Muffat最廣為人知的曲子,也是我認為是巴洛克中期最佳的代表作品之一。如是大樂團合奏的情況之下,這首Passcaglia包含了各情緒,從細膩,沈思,嚴肅,陽光,到活潑,音樂在不疾不徐的節奏下,像是經歷了一場精彩的人生故事。引進了法式的rondeau形式,也讓主旋律不斷出現,怎麼開始,怎麼結束。

這張CD是我在大學的時候就買的。當時對於法式巴洛克曲風並不怎麼喜歡,所以大部份的音樂其實沒留下特別的印象,唯獨那首Passcaglia,可是百聽不厭。錄音上的音樂家為Chiara Banchini領導的Ensemble 415古樂團。「415」這數字,是今天古樂團調時所用的A的音頻,跟傳統的A 440赫茲,剛好差了半音。Ensemble 415最大的特色,應該是它的大編制,幾乎是其他古樂團的兩倍。這造就了獨奏樂器群的私密感和合奏群的渾厚聲音的強烈對比,是為一絕。相對的,樂器多也使得聲音較為模糊而沒有那麼清晰。另外,在Muffat在譜上的前言有建議,說除了絃樂,還可以配上管樂器。因此,Ensemble 415樂團在某些樂章,獨奏樂器群的絃樂器則是由雙簧管和低音管代替,又是改變音色的好方式。

整體而言,蠻喜歡Ensemble 415的聲音和表現。莊嚴的樂章,他們可以格外突顯出那種沉重感。快的樂章,樂團出奇地一致,敏捷性仍充足。有時候Ensemble 415的演出讓人覺得有點小心翼翼,一方面是Banchini的領導風格,但也有可能是樂團本身大小所帶來的限制。

這張是我會推薦的音樂和錄音,但和Corelli的經典作品六相比,Muffat的這一套Armonico Tributo,還是缺少了Corelli那一聽就會上癮的特質。德國作曲家,則需再多等個六十年,才會有韓德爾的作品六,除了完美結合了義法元素,還可以跟Corelli的作品齊名,甚至某方面還要超越他。

Earlier I wrote about Austrian composer Aufschnaiter and his set of Concors discordia which drew inspiration from his predecessor Georg Muffat's Armonico Tributo.  Here is the set of Muffat's Armonico Tributo, written in 1682, recorded by Chiara Banchini and her Ensemble 415.  This is among one of my earliest recordings of Baroque music on period performances, before I actually got serious about historically informed performances.  I purchased this when I was in college, and back in those days I was just happy to acquire stuff that was new to me.

Georg Muffat is often credited (as he also credits himself) as the first to bring the latest French and Italian styles to the German-speaking world and fusing them together to create a new music idiom.   In doing so, he was 40 years ahead of François Couperin's later Les goûts réunis.  This type of synthesis eventually paved the way to the cosmopolitan style that we often associate with the later German composers like Telemann, Handel, and of course, J.S. Bach. 

Muffat was actually born in France, where his father's family is of Scottish origin, escaping the religious persecution (anti-Catholic) of Elizabeth I.  Muffat's mother was French, for what most scholars know.  At the young age of ten, he went to Paris, where he studied with none other than Jean-Baptiste Lully, the godfather of French Baroque music.  He later found work as an organist at the Strasbourg cathedral.  When it was clear that war was going to break out, he left to Bavaria, where he took up studying the law in Ingolstadt.  We then find Muffat in Vienna and Prague.

Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I liked Muffat, but not enough, apparently, to employ him.  Muffat's first Austrian employer was prince-archbishop Max Gandolf of Salzburg, where Muffat was to become organist and chamber musician.  While here in the 1678, he was given permission to go to Italy, this time studying with the great Italian keyboardist Pasquini.  As Pasquini and Corelli were good friends and colleagues, masters of their respective instruments, Muffat got to know Corelli as well.  Muffat was genuinely impressed by Corelli's op.6 concerti grossi, and he set out to write some of his own.  Muffat even had the honor of having the music rehearsed at Corelli's own house.  As this is solely based on Muffat's personal statement, we don't exactly know what Corelli thought about Muffat's music.

We know the music that Muffat started writing in Rome eventually became the set of Armonico Tributo, first published in 1682 and dedicated to his employer Max.  Titled "sonatas for few or numerous instruments," Armonico Tributo is a set of 5 "sonatas" written for 5 parts, although the orchestration was open.  As a full ensemble, the music has a texture that comes straight from Corelli, with a solo sections of the concertino of two violins and cello in contrast with the full tutti passages, clearly marked by Muffat on the score.  Muffat even suggests that the concertino instruments can be replaced by oboes and bassoon to achieve a different tone color.     

Learning from the two most influential and leading figures of French and Italian music, Muffat's experience must have been profound.  The synthesis of both styles for him, therefore, must have been very personal and complete.  The Italian Corellian influences include the grave chordal openings and fast contrapuntal sections, and of course concerto grosso instrumentation.  French Lullian influences are manifested in the different dance forms.  While the same dance had both Italian and French versions (Gavotta vs Gavotte, Allemanda vs Allemande, etc), many dance movements have a rhythm that is distinctly French in nature.  Muffat expands the dance repertoire past those in Corelli's Op.6 by adding dances like the Bourree, Balletto, and the Rondeau form. 

These sonatas are generally short in nature, with the exception of the last sonata, which ends with a magnificent Passcaglia.  This might be one of Muffat's most recognized piece, and I would say that it's one of the masterpieces of the middle Baroque.  Played through a full ensemble, it goes through a variety of textures and moods, from the delicate, intimate, and delicate to the outgoing and vibrant.  The ten-minute piece plays through like a nice long narrative, and the rondeau form ensures that the opening theme keeps returning, bringing you back full circle.  Played right, it's a piece with utmost dignity and grandeur.  

Banchini's Ensemble 415 (the number is reference to the accepted Baroque tuning of A 415 Hz, just a semitone below the standard A 440 Hz) is known for having a large number of musicians, close to twice the size of most leading period ensembles.  This creates their characteristic sound of having very dramatic contrasts between the soloists and the full ensemble rich timbre.   This, however, comes at a cost.  The large number of players smooths out the sound and you don't get the sharp clear attacks of ensembles with smaller forces.  It's simple physics.   

That being said, I'm overall pleased with Ensemble 415's performance here.  The large forces give extra heaviness to the Grave openings, and for the fast movements, they are pretty cohesive and agile for a group of their size.  Of course, their playing can sometimes be considered a bit careful, either from Banchini's artistic direction or from the limits of the ensemble itself. 

Besides the marvelous Passcaglia, I don't think I found Muffat's Armonico Tributo generally as gratifying as Corelli's iconic Op.6 Concerti Grossi. He has good moments, but ultimately the music falls short of grabbing you like Corelli.  I would still recommend the music and recording for those who want entry into Muffat's instrumental music.  However, it would take 60 more years before another German guy called Handel would create a perfect synthesis of the Italian and French styles in his own op.6 concerti grossi that would equal, or in some ways, surpass Corelli's.







2 comments:

John Hendron said...

I think the performance here is great; I only wish the recording engineers had used closer miking; the concertino groups sound like they're in an ocean of space.

Deadlockcp said...

Couldn't quite find the recording location, but they show a picture of the ensemble recording in a large modern concert hall.

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