Sunday, May 5, 2013

Concert: John Dornenburg and Yuko Tanaka: Music for Viola da gamba and Harpsichord (01/23/2013)

Memorial Church, Stanford

ORTIZ: Recercada Quarta and Recercada Settima
Girolamo Dalla CASA: "Anchor che col partire"
FRESCOBALDI: Canzona quinta detta la Tromboncina and Canzona ottava detta l'Ambitiosa
COUPERIN: Pieces de clavecin, quinzieme ordre
      La régente ou la Minerve 
      Le dodo ou l'amour au berceau
COUPERIN: Viola da gamba Suite in E minor 
KUHNEL: Partita XII in E minor  
BACH: Viola da gamba sonata in G minor, BWV 1029

John Dornenburg, viola da gamba
Yuko Tanaka, harpsichord

這場在Stanford教堂的音樂會是今年一月上班後第一場去聽的音樂會。由於是週三晚上,所以這天提早一點下班,趕回學校。雖然已儘量早出發,到教堂時還是遲到了幾分鐘,將Ortiz和Dalla Casa的曲子給錯過了。當我真正坐好時,Dornenburg已經在拉Frescobaldi的canzona了。

Dornenburg是灣區的古中提琴手,跟我大鍵琴老師一樣,在Stanford也有教課。他是對音樂非常有主見的人,所以有時聽他闡述對於曲子或是任何表演的感想,都很有趣。Dornenburg是gamba大師Wieland Kuijken的門生之一,也是第一位在Hague音樂院獲得gamba主修文憑的美國人。他學成後也在留在歐洲一段時間,跟過幾個古樂團,所以教學和實戰經驗都很深厚。


接下來,是Dornenburg的伴奏Yuko Tanaka唯一獨奏的時刻。她簡短地彈了三首Couperin出自第十五組曲的曲子。第一首La régente ou la Minerve是典型的Couperin法式大鍵琴曲,在裝飾音和節奏中顯出其貴氣。我最喜歡的,則是第二首Le dodo ou l'amour au berceau,在描寫沉睡的邱比特。雖然和他有名的tic-toc-choc一樣,手是要交插彈上下排,但這首是慢的曲子,而且甜美至極。第三首則以快曲子結尾。Tanaka在最後一首裡有些明顯的失誤,但她對於前二首曲子的彈奏方式倒是值得稱許的。

下半場的gamba曲子算是巴洛克晚期的音樂。Dornenburg選擇演奏Couperin的gamba組曲出乎我意料。一來,Couperin最有名的,是鍵盤作品。二來,他除了寫的gamba音樂不多之外,更比不上Marais以及St. Colombe對於樂器的掌握。但,Couperin深知法國音樂的精髓,而這首gamba是最好的見證。Dornenburg在曲目單上甚至說這些曲子是法國gamba音樂中的極品。從Dornenburg的演奏,不難聽得出來為什麼。


當然,演奏gamba音樂不聯想到巴哈的奏鳴曲也難。有趣的是,巴哈為和法國音樂密不可分的gamba寫義式奏鳴曲,但卻為義大利過來的大提琴寫法式組合。BWV 1029這首是三首gamba奏鳴曲中唯一「快–慢–快」三樂章型式的奏鳴曲,讓許多學者猜測或許是某遺失的協奏曲改編的。這首也算是我很期待的,只是音樂會到了尾聲,John好像似乎已累了。除了音準之外,樂句修飾也和前幾首比較起來,相形見拙。這是整場音樂會,美中不足,稍嫌可惜的之處。不過,光是聽到Dornenburg如此有靈魂地演奏一晚的gamba曲子,其實已足夠了。

This concert at Stanford's Memorial Church I attended this past January was the first one since I started my new job.  Falling on a weekday, I made an effort to leave work a tad early.  Still, I ended up short and missed out on the first two pieces.  By the time I sat down, John had started to play the Frescobaldi canzonas.

John is a Bay Area gamba player, and like Elaine, also teaches lessons at Stanford.  He studied with Wieland Kuijken in the Netherlands and is supposedly the first American to receive a diploma in the viola da gamba.  John spent some time in Europe playing with some of the famous and respected early music ensembles, so as a performer, he's definitely earned his credentials.  John forms quick and strong opinions on music performances and is not afraid to express them.  As an audience, it is always interesting to hear his perspective on things.  I'm not sure my heart or pride would hold up if I was on the performing end.

Frescobaldi's canzonas are typical of early Baroque instrumental works.  With Frescobaldi, he takes things further with more pronounced contrasts between sections. John's performances does Frescobaldi justice with some passionate playing, heightening the dramatic aspects of the music.  I have a few recordings of this piece but was never familiar enough with the music.  He told me after the concert that he improvised a bit in these pieces, a fact not surprising to me.        

Following the Frescobaldi were three Couperin harpsichord pieces played by Yuko Tanaka, her only solo moments of the concert.  The three pieces are selections from the 15th ordre.  The first piece La régente ou la Minerve is a typical French harpsichord work, filled with rich ornaments and dotted rhythms that radiates the sense of regality, as the title suggests.  The second piece, Le dodo ou l'amour au berceau, depicts a sleeping Cupid.  This absolutely beautiful and sweet piece was easily my favorite among the three.  The last one L'evaporée is a fast piece to show off technical chops.  Tanaka didn't seem quite at ease with the last piece as she did in the first two though.  Overall, her playing of Couperin was very enjoyable, and I am happy to be introduced to Couperin pieces that I was previously unaware of.

The second half resumed with viola da gamba works of the later Baroque, starting with one of Couperin's gamba suites.  Those who know Couperin mainly from his keyboard works may find this an oddity.  It's true that Couperin didn't compose a lot for the gamba and does not understand the instrument as well as Marais or St. Colombe.  However, Couperin's understanding of the French music idiom is unquestioned, and John states in the program notes that they rank among the finest written for the instrument.  John's treatment of the music demonstrates why.

The concert closes with the Germans, after going through Italian and French gamba music.  Kuhnel and J.S. Bach represent German composers one generation apart.  Kuhnel's partita is deep-rooted in the French tradition, having studied there as teenager.  However, Kuhnel adds that touch of German orderliness to his music.  It is this style in the grand scheme of things that Bach was the emerge out of decades later.

A gamba concert omitting J.S. Bach's gamba sonatas is hard to justify, and rightfully, this was the last piece of the night.  It is interesting to note that Bach wrote Italian-style sonatas for the often French- associated gamba, while he wrote French-style suites for the Italian-associated cello.  The third suite, BWV 1029 is the only one that employs a "fast–slow–fast" three movement structure, prompting many scholars to suggest that it may be a transcription of a lost concerto.  Immensely familiar with this piece, I looked forward to it.  However, by this time, John might not have been at his best.  His intonation and phrasing was getting sloppy, and it might not have been the best way to close out the concert.  Nonetheless, this was night of spirited performances of a mix of famous and lesser-known pieces by John.  That by itself, was a treat.    

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