Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Two very special instruments : the Viola d’Amore and the Viennese Violone.
Although they existed side by side for more than half a century, they never met.
When we first discovered the unique sound colours that spring to life when both instruments are played together, we just couldn’t believe that nobody had ever done it before.
It all started when Haruko accidentally stumbled across the mysterious instrument with the blindfolded woman’s head and the two layers of strings, seven of them to be played with the bow and another six underneath for resonance. It turned out this viol was made by a French violin maker, Leclerq, in the 18th century. At some point in time it had been transformed into a viola, but it had recently been restored to its original condition.
The attraction was immediate, for such is the power of the “love viol”. Leopold Mozart, in his treatise, had already praised the sweet sound of this magical instrument and composers from different periods had written music for it. So Haruko started the search for original pieces to play.
One of the most prolific composers for the instrument was the Italian baroque composer Attilio Ariosti. His “Stockholm Sonatas” turned out to be absolutely delightful pieces. They were written for the Viola d’Amore in different tunings, accompanied by a Basso Continuo.
This means that the score contains the solo part and a single bass line, to be played and harmonised by a harpsichord, organ or lute.
When we started playing these sonatas, for practising purposes, with just the bass line played on the Viennese Bass, we were very excited to discover what a wonderful sound this combination produced.
Indeed, the tuning of both instruments is very similar. Just compare A-D-A-D-F#-A-D (Viola d’Amore) with (D)-A-D-F#-A (Viennese Violone) : Except for the two outer strings, the Viola d’Amore has the same tuning. The tunings in themselves are already highly resonant, but when you add the six “hidden” sympathic strings you get a spaciousness with these two instruments that is simply unmatched. “Surround Sound” avant la lettre...
Next thing we tried was some original music for Viennese Violone and Viola. The Viola is a member of the violin family and is tuned a fifth below the violin. Now there are a number of such works from the Viennese Classical period, and we tried one of Johann Matthias Sperger’s Sonatas with the Viola d’Amore instead of the viola. 
If the word “Bingo” means anything to you, then you could have called this a “Bingo-moment”. 
Whereas the original had always sounded a bit bland and lifeless, the new arrangement suddenly brought out more colours, more resonance, and the blend with the Bass seemed richer, more complex. It also gave us a lot of new musical ideas and to be honest, we rather think that Sperger would have been delighted...
(Musicologically speaking, arranging music for different instruments has always been very common practice throughout history. Only in modern times has it become something that is frowned upon. That is because to some musicians, teachers and musicologists, “Authenticity” means that the composer’s legacy, which consists of ink on paper, should be respected and cannot be tampered with. One has to play what was written, the exact way it was written, on the instrument it was written for. Music students all over the world still have to hear these words day in and day out : “Play What Is Written !”
Of course in real life things are not that simple - or simplistic. Real authenticity demands deep insight into actual historical ways of playing and of interpreting the dots on the paper correctly. The same musical signs can mean very different things in different times. More often than not, the way music was actually played cannot be guessed by looking at the notes, and to play “What Is Written” without further knowledge is about the worst thing you can do. And of course, music has to live. It’s all very well to try and be “authentic”, but if the result sounds like something that’s been dead for three hundred years, there is no point in playing it that way).
After Ariosti and Sperger we didn’t want to stop. We included some pop and film music in our concert programs, and we’re looking into some contemporary works as well. We’ll see if anything worthwile can be added to our repertoire. Our philosophy is to play only music we really like, and that we think an audience might like. Life is too short for anything else.
So sit back, relax and enjoy...

Korneel Le Compte
Haruko Tanabe
この”愛のビオラ”に、晴子はすぐに魅かれてしまいました。レオポルド モーツアルトも
その中でも群を抜いた作曲家は、イタリアのバロック時代に活躍したアッテイリオ アリオステイ。彼の別名ストックホルムソナタは、数種類の調弦法によって書かれた、バスコンテイニュオ付きのとても美しい、貴重なソナタです。
次に挑戦したのは、ヨハン マテイアス シュペルガーの、ビオラとウイーン式コントラバスの為に書かれたソナタ。ビオラは、ご存知の通りバイオリンと同様に5度調弦の楽器です。
( 音楽学上の立場からしますと、オリジナルの曲をその他の楽器編成で演奏するという行為は全く珍しいことではありません。それにこだわっているのは何と現在だけなのです。何故かというと、現代の音楽家、教師、音楽学者達の中では、歴史的に忠実に音楽を演奏するということを、作曲家の書いた、楽譜という紙とインクのとおりに演奏するということと解釈をしている人たちが存在するからなのです。紙に印刷してある通りに演奏するという努力の為に、作曲家によって指定してある楽器編成以外では演奏しない、という事になる訳です。現代の世界中の音楽を学ぶものたちは、”楽譜の通りに弾け!”と毎日教師達から聞かされているでしょう。
どうぞ、リラックスしてお座りください。Please enjoy!!!

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