Baroque ensemble Il Gardellino: “We never record in studios”
Baroque – new rock and roll? You can say so! Let this music be already half a millennium – what difference does it have if it still pumps people at concerts and attracts all new fans and adherents. Authentic performance – that is, playing on old instruments – gets to the Russian province.
In fact, there is nothing surprising in the attractiveness of Baroque. It is in us like “sewn up.” Rock, prog rock, folk rock, art rock and even pop music borrowed from the Baroque melodies and rhythms. In principle, rock and baroque music coincide in many respects, so to speak, by intentions and aesthetics: passion, desire for improvisation, live performance, the important role of the text, the acuteness of the statement, and so on.
With the discovery of authentic performance in the middle of the 20th century, baroque music boomed. In the dust of the libraries, a whole universe of forgotten manuscripts of very good composers was discovered. This music was considered obsolete and naive – but only because it really is somehow not cool to play the “normal” violins and pianos, which are from the XIX century. Now in the “party” of authenticists something is constantly happening, and there is a lively debate about what to play and how to play it – with the transition to personalities. Pure rock and roll. People like this lively nerve and lack of stiffness. And not only in Moscow, which always shows off, but even in Yaroslavl, where the annual International Music Festival was held in May, created by an outstanding violist, Grammy winner, Yuri Bashmet. This year, the Belgian team Il Gardelino (Shcheglenok, Antonio Vivaldi, named for the concert), arrived from the baroque team there. The quintet – although in general it is a flexible composition, and the number of musicians can vary for specific tasks – played a conceptual program.
Bach (“Brandenburg Concert”) and composers, who at that time were put on a par with the Leipzig genius: Johann Friedrich Fache and Czech Jan Dismas Zelenka. The latter, by the way, is one of such unexpected discoveries of recent times: a wonderful composer originally from Bohemia, who worked in Saxony, who was literally “dug up” in musical libraries and is now studying and playing. The concert turned out to be very lively – Yaroslavl members didn’t dance in the aisles! And I talked to the founding fathers of the team, flutist Jan de Vinh and oboist Marcel Ponsel, about the features of recording baroque music on modern equipment.
– A simple technical question: how difficult is it to record antique instruments, what problems arise when recording? Marcel: I don’t know what “problems” there may be with antique instruments. They have their own timbre, their own “colors”, which I personally always liked very much. The process of recording these instruments is not very different from the more modern ones, however, they are “softer”, more tender. Jan: There really are no problems, but a normal, suitable room for recording is absolutely necessary. Yesterday’s Philharmonic would be perfect. I can compare this hall with the ancient building of the former church in Antwerp, where we usually record. The church is very long, and the sound goes on for a long time, that is, there is no echo, and the recording doesn’t have this feeling of “re-acoustics.” “How is the sound of the baroque ensemble made? Jan: Stereo microphones. In general, 20–30 years ago it was believed that the baroque ensemble should be removed only with one microphone. Then one Swiss engineer, Jean Daniel Noir, proved to everyone that each instrument can be written with a separate microphone, and there is nothing wrong with that. Now even computers are used – they adjust the sound delay milliseconds. So baroque instruments and modern technologies are very friendly. Marcel: But still, we don’t write each instrument separately, like pop musicians. We play all together from beginning to end, repeating dozens of times, if necessary. Then we mount the best doubles.
– What is the best studio for you? Jan: And we do not record in studios at all – only in concert halls and churches.
– Now there is a war between authenticists and academics, like between punks and metalheads in my youth. Do you personally see a contradiction in different styles of classical music? Marseille: There is no contradiction. Baroque music is like a speech, it is based on rhetoric. And the music in the baroque composition “highlights” the phrases and images, making them more visual. If you understand the system, then you know how to depict all this correctly. But the same works with Schubert, and Brahms, and generally quite a long time, after the Baroque era! Because only in the 19th century the connection between music and the word began to disappear, only then, just in the nineteenth century, “pure music” began to appear. This is romanticism: music begins where speech ends, where words cannot say anything. Romance told about the inner experiences of the hero. In baroque composers this simply could not happen, they are about something else. Bach had a difficult life, many of his children died, but nowhere in him would you hear any personal problems or regrets. But at the same time very strong emotions are transmitted – and they glorify the church. – In Belgium, developed authentic performance.