Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Concert: Voices of Music - The Art of the Cornetto (Bruce Dickey) (10/11/2012)

 Bruce Dickey, cornetto player



10/11/2012

Buonamente: Sonata quarta a 2
Giovanni Cima: Sonata in G minor
Josquin des Prez: Mille Regretz with divisions by Bruce Dickey in the styles of Ganassi and Bassano
Bartolome de Selma y Salaverde: Vestiva i colli passegiato
Giovanni Felice Sancez: Tempo fu ch'io t'amai
Uccellini: Sonata detta la Luciminia contenta
Scarani: Sonata concertata a 3 sopra Lucis creator optime
Fontana: Sonata undecima a 2 canti
Ferrabosco: Pavana for lute
Palestrina: Nigra sum a 5 with divisions by Bruce Dickey
Michelangelo Rossi: Toccata Settima
Castello: Sonta duodecima a 3


Bruce Dickey, cornetto
Elizabeth Blumenstock, violin
Elisabeth Reed, cello
David Tayler, theorbo and archlute
Hanneke van Proosdij, harpsichord and organ

雖然前一天才去聽了Kuijken大師的音樂會,但隔天又有古號(cornetto)大師Bruce Dickey的音樂會,不去實在是太可惜了。到了現場,看到音樂會的曲目時,更是滿心期待。因為基本上,通常有cornetto的曲子,通常都是巴洛克早期的音樂。


音樂會的曲目可分成主要三部份:(1) cornett獨奏曲,(2)有cornett的合奏曲,以及(3)其他的獨奏曲。Bruce Dickey真正獨秀的曲子其實只有Josquin和Palestrina的兩首他改編的曲子。這兩首原本是聲樂曲,不過Dickey改編成器樂版,並加了自己的divisions變奏。Josquin這首,他還特地參考Ganassi與Bassano所留傳下來的divisions法則,寫出他們風格的divisions變奏。雖然焦點是放在Bruce Dickey上,但這些曲子我並沒有特別喜歡。一來,對cornett雖然不討厭,但是小提琴畢竟在演奏 上有更高的敏捷度和表現的能力。二來,cornett的音色比較圓滑,有時甚至會過度平和,這些早期的曲子中,有時音樂結束並沒有特別鮮明的記憶。

合奏曲裡,有Buonamente,Cima,Scarani,Fontana,Castello的奏鳴曲,以及改編的Sancez歌曲一首。可以說,這晚的合奏曲子其實是佔多數的,而且恰好也是我最熟悉的。雖然之前cornett的獨奏曲不完全是我的菜,但這些奏鳴曲,以及cornett和其他樂器融合在一塊兒的時候,對於它的接受度則大大提高。我手邊的Buonamente,Cima,與Fontana的錄音,裡面的cornett正好就是Dickey所吹奏的。這些合奏曲裡,最不熟的是Scarani以及Sancez這二位作曲家以及他們的音樂。

Buonamente因為前一陣子剛好在聽他的音樂,所以對這首很熟,而且也很喜歡。Cima和Fontana的奏鳴曲,雖然不錯,但他們的曲風偏保守些,沒有特別突出的地方。反倒是這些曲子裡,我最喜歡的其實是Castello的那首,然後再來是Scarani的。Castello的奏鳴曲,在於曲子段落之間的對比強烈,驚喜連連,加上音樂家們的激情演出,因此做為音樂會最後一首是理想的安排。而Scarani那首雖然之前沒聽過,但儘管和Cima與Fontana一樣,沒有特別困難的炫技,但Scarani製造出了音色濃厚但柔和的音樂。曲目單上寫說Scarani本身是聲樂家,所以說不定是這樣的特質,使得對於聲部間的流動與和諧更加重視。

如果查查cornett的資料,會發現要將這古樂器吹好,是被公認的困難。它的吹嘴是銅管樂的,而按孔則是木管樂的。這種混合體,今天的樂器中是已絕版的。要吹出均勻的音色,強弱分明,以及要展現出靈活度,可真是個挑戰。但是聽到Bruce Dickey吹奏cornett,他簡直就是不費吹灰之力,就吹出漂亮的音色,而且樂句該有的表現,他也是很輕鬆就達到了。整場音樂會下來,可能只有聽見一兩個音較不乾淨的音。其餘,只有「完美」二字能形容。要知道,早期的器樂曲,這些高音聲部沒有規定要由哪個樂器演奏,所以小提琴/cornett/直笛都是可以任意更換的。當聽到Bruce Dickey吹奏的cornett聲部可和小提琴可平起平坐,這就是一代宗師的實力,果然不虛此行~~   Cornett的聲音在教堂中繚繞,豐滿但不剌耳,正是cornett音樂的最佳呈現。

這天既然邀了Bruce Dickey當特別來賓,大部份的曲子當以古號為主。不過,其他的音樂家也各有獨佔舞台的時間。譬如說,Uccellini的小提琴奏鳴曲,由 Elizabeth Blumenstock演出;Salaverde的那首寫給低音部的曲子,由Elisabeth Reed在巴洛克大提琴上表演;就連Voices of Music的co-founder們夫妻檔David和Hanneke都有獨秀的橋段(David的lute,以及Hanneke在室內小風琴)。

Voices of Music的固定成員的獨奏時間,當屬Elizabeth Blumenstock那首Uccellini小提琴奏鳴曲最讓人拍案叫好。Blumenstock女士的演奏風格我一直很欣賞,她大膽趨動音樂的程度,雖然不免有時音會失準,但換得的是個精彩萬分的表演。她的拉法比Huggett更有個性,也使得在她和Bruce Dickey的合奏曲子中,顯得更有生氣。

Elisabeth Reed的那首Salaverde,則不知是坐的位子還是怎樣,總覺得她的大提琴的音都糊在一塊兒,聽不出音樂的細微的樂句架構。Hanneke彈Rossi的那首toccata,是在室內小風琴上彈。我以前聽的都是在大鍵琴上的表演,但是因為風琴的音的更長的延續性,所以半音階的不和諧感更強烈,甚至有現代音樂的感覺,是個很有趣的效果!而David的魯特琴獨奏,則是營造出了最安靜的私人氣氛。

這場早期巴洛克音樂響宴,如此讓我滿意。音樂會中場及結束,各有時間和音樂家們聊一下。Bruce Dickey讓我感覺有點學者風,嚴肅不易親近,雖然簽了CD,不過也沒有多聊上幾句。而Blumenstock女士,則因為透過大鍵琴老師的引見,使得我倆熟識到她還叫得出我的名字。再請她加簽CD之餘,又多聊了兩句。而且發現,之前一直沒有和她拍照的機會,所以這次也一併補足了。說穿了,Blumenstock真是位琴拉得好,人也好的古樂音樂家。有她在,真的是灣區古樂愛好者的福氣。


Elizabeth Blumenstock

What an interesting selection of early Baroque music.  I can't recall if I've ever been to a Baroque concert where all the pieces were written before Bach's birth.  Of course, the theme of this concert by nature calls for a program that is just... earlier than usual.  

The guest artist of this Voices of Music concert is none other than international renowned cornettist Bruce Dickey.  I personally have his recordings from the set of Fontana/Cima/Turini sonatas and the disc of Buonamente music, both in collaboration with Monica Huggett.  From what I've been reading, the cornett is a very difficult instrument to play and master.  It's got a mouthpiece like a brass instrument but finger holes like a woodwind.  It is truly of its own kind here.  To create a uniform intonation but also have the control for dynamics, phrasing, and the dexterity in the virtuosic passages has got to be a feat.  Especially, many of these treble parts used to be interchangeable with the violin.  The kind of technique that is required to hold your own against the violin virtuoso must be of the highest. 

The pieces in this program can be divided into three categories (1) cornett solo, (2) ensemble music with cornett, and (3) solo pieces for other musicians.   Needless to say, the night's music featured composers which are not on your average early music concert.  The only new name to me was Scarani, but I wouldn't say remaining composers lie in my familiar territory.  Dickey's solo cornett pieces come in the form of two arrangements of vocal music by Josquin and Palestrina, along with the divisions.  In the Josquin piece, he even writes divisions in the styles of two composers of the time, Ganassi and Bassano.  The playing was superb, but I found the music to be okay, not as engaging for me.  I think because of the slower nature of the music itself, add to the fact that the cornett has a rounder tone and does not quite match the violin in terms of expressiveness, makes the music not as memorable as I'd like it to be.    

The most enjoyable pieces were then the ensemble music that involves the cornett.  With the added benefit that I know these pieces better, I think the cornett sound blended better in an ensemble setting, as I enjoyed the support from Blumenstock's violin and the continuo group.  Of all the sonatas played here, I recognize the Buonamente sonata the most, whereas the Cima and Fontana, they ring a distant bell because of the recording I own.  In general, I did not find the Cima and Fontana pieces as interesting.  The same cannot be said of the Castello sonata, which is bold and inventive on many levels.  The big mood changes between the sections continually throw surprises, and the ensemble's playing was electrifying, a fitting piece to end the concert.  The Scarani piece was probably my second favorite piece in the concert.  Although not as daring as Castello, Scarani managed to create a rich and sonorous texture in this particular sonata despite the absence of technical fireworks.  In the program notes, Dickey points out that Scarani was a singer, and it probably reflects on his instrumental writing.          

Now I pointed out earlier how difficult the cornett is to play.  However, listening to maestro Dickey, he makes it absolutely sound like it's a walk in the park.  His intonation was even and clean, that even with the quick virtuosic passages, I may have only noticed one or two spotty notes throughout the concert.  The remaining effortlessness and precision of his execution can only be summed as "perfection at work."  Also keep in mind that in these early pieces, the treble parts could be played on the violin as well as the cornett, that hearing Dickey match Blumenstock note for note was just amazing.  Lastly, the setting of the church made it feel that this was where the cornett belonged and this was exactly how it should be played.....  no discussion.

The remaining solo pieces were played by the regular cast of Voices of Music.  This included David's moment on the lute, Hanneke on the organ, Elisabeth Reed on the cello, and Elizabeth on the violin.  I enjoyed Elizabeth's highly-charged Uccellini, where I have a recording of her playing the exact piece with the Arcadian Academy.  Playing live though, I think she even took it up to another level.  I've always enjoyed Elizabeth's playing, where she isn't afraid to push the boundaries, sometimes at the cost of minor intonation issues.  However, I'd be much rather have this than a bland performance. 

Not sure if it was me, or if it was the seating, but Elisabeth's Salaverde didn't project well on my side.  Instead, I felt the notes were too mushed together and could not make out the finer details of the music.  David's sensuous treatment of Ferrabosco pavan was a little bit of serenity amidst all the cornet and ensemble music.  I think this is probably the first time hearing David play solo, as I always see him as a continuo player in the Philharmonia Baroque or Voices of Music.  And finally, Hanneke's playing of Rossi's unusually highly chromatic seventh toccata on the chamber organ was a very interesting choice.  Unlike the harpsichord, which does not sustain the notes as much, the organ is on the other side of the spectrum.  What this means is that the chromaticism and dissonance is unleashed to the fullest extent, that it can be fooled for a modern composition.   

In all, this was a balanced and interesting ,but most importantly, well-played program.  I came out of the concert enjoying it much more than I had originally anticipated.  I got the chance to ask Mr. Dickey to autograph some of my CDs, but he seemed like a rather stern kind of fellow.  Ms. Blumenstock, on the other hand, knew my name personally (from previous encounters and of course, she and Elaine go way back).  After asking her to autograph a Matteis CD (highly enjoyable and recommended), I had the pleasure of finally getting a picture with her :)

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