Thu, Oct 11, 2012 - Page 11 News List

Taipei Philharmonic Chorus to present Taiwan premiere of Belshazzar’s Feast
台北愛樂首演《伯沙撒王的盛宴》

Dutch painter Rembrandt’s 1635 oil painting of Belshazzar’s Feast.
荷蘭畫家林布蘭一六三五年的油畫作品《伯沙撒王的盛宴》。

Photo courtesy of The Wikimedia Commons
照片由維基共享資源提供

The most talked-about topic among Taipei’s choral enthusiasts recently must have been English composer William Walton’s (1902-1983) powerful and grand-scale choral symphony work Belshazzar’s Feast. The Taipei Philharmonic Chorus is set to make history by putting on its upcoming concert titled “Thanksgiving and Celebration — Belshazzar’s Feast” on Saturday, featuring Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast as well as Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s (1643-1704) Te Deum, both of which are Taiwan premieres.

Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast, composed in 1931 and generally regarded as the composer’s compositional highlight, tells the biblical story of the collapse of the ancient Babylonian empire. The work is unprecedentedly massive in its scoring, including a baritone soloist, double mixed chorus, a semi-chorus, a full orchestra, an organ, and two brass bands. In other words, it features a fiercely magnificent sound effect, rich harmonies, and technically demanding musical tension and expression. The work is rarely performed even in Europe.

Walton expert Michael Kennedy once wrote, “Walton calls Belshazzar’s Feast neither cantata nor oratorio, and in his later years encouraged the view that it was a choral symphony.” In 1947 Herbert von Karajan called Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast, “the best choral music that has been written in the last 50 years.” The work is characterized by its fierce and rich orchestration and ever-shifting and sophisticated rhythms, which later indirectly inspired Carl Orff’s (1895-1982) famous work Carmina Burana.

The motet Te Deum, presented in the first half of the concert, was originally composed to celebrate the victory of the Battle of Steinkirk in 1692. Given the work’s baroque aural splendor, which echoes the concert’s theme of thanksgiving and celebration, it has been used for the introduction of the Olympics as well as the theme music preceding the broadcasts of the European Broadcasting Union.

Hungarian conductor Gabor Hollerung and Hungarian baritone Peter Kalman were invited to present the concert. Accompanied by the Evergreen Symphony Orchestra, the concert with its diverse program will open with German composer Richard Wagner’s (1813-1883) instrumental piece Prelude from Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg, then Te Deum, and then end with the exciting masterpiece Belshazzar’s Feast. Hollerung said that it would be a significant and special musical event.

(Lin Ya-ti, Taipei Times)

台北合唱界近來最夯的話題,應該就是英國作曲家威廉‧華爾頓(1902-1983)氣勢磅礡的大型合唱交響作品《伯沙撒王的盛宴》。台北愛樂合唱團本週六將於國家音樂廳帶來《感恩與歡慶—伯沙撒王的盛宴》音樂會,曲目包括兩部台灣首演作品:華爾頓的《伯沙撒王的盛宴》與法國作曲馬克─安端‧夏邦提耶(1643-1704)的《感恩頌歌》。這場演出,不僅將為台灣合唱歷史寫下新的一頁,也為台北愛樂歡慶創團四十週年的系列音樂會,掀起另一波高潮。

華爾頓一九三一年寫的曠世巨作《伯沙撒王的盛宴》,講述古代巴比倫帝國的興亡衰敗。此作品編制極大,包含一位男中音獨唱、雙混聲合唱團、小合唱團、管弦樂團、管風琴,另添兩個銅管樂團,整體呈現開闊壯麗的激烈音響、豐厚的和聲,以及高難度的音樂張力與表現,連歐洲也鮮少演出。

對華爾頓鑽研至深的學者麥可‧甘迺迪曾寫道:「華爾頓認為《伯沙撒王的盛宴》非清唱劇,亦非神劇,並且在他晚年時,他傾向將它視為一部合唱交響作品。」赫伯特‧馮‧卡拉揚於一九四七年讚譽此作為「近五十年來最佳的合唱音樂」。這部作品狂烈飽和的音樂語彙、多變複雜的節奏,甚至間接催生德國音樂家卡爾‧奧福(1895-1982)的名作《布蘭詩歌》。

上半場的經文歌《感恩頌歌》原是為慶祝一六九二年史坦克爾克戰役獲勝而作,其巴洛克華麗聲響,後來更成為奧運會的開場信號曲及歐洲廣播聯盟的主題曲。

這次音樂會邀請到匈牙利指揮嘉保‧豪勒隆,以及匈牙利籍男中音彼得‧卡爾曼擔任獨唱。在長榮交響樂團的演奏下,音樂會曲目安排多樣,從理查‧華格納(1813-1883)《紐倫堡名歌手》器樂序曲開場,接著《感恩頌歌》,並以撼動人心的《伯沙撒王的盛宴》畫下句點。豪勒隆表示,這將是一場別具意義的音樂會。

(台北時報記者林亞蒂)

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