Month of Moderns 現代樂之月

by Michael Caruso


Donald Nally and The Crossing performed the second of three concerts in their “Month of Moderns” series Saturday evening, June 24, in the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill. Heard by an enthusiastic audience that nearly filled the church, the concert‘s program lived up to its name. Two of the three works were world premieres while the third was an American premiere. All three received renditions of such sterling mastery that they couldn’t help but enhance the choir’s already stellar international reputation.

唐諾德・納利(Donald Nally) 與穿越合唱團(The Crossing) 6月24日週六晚間於栗樹丘的長老教會,舉行他們三場「現代樂之月」音樂會的第二場表演。現場熱情的觀眾幾乎滿座,盛讚音樂會曲目不負盛名。他們當天呈獻兩首作品的世界首演,另外一首則是美國本地的初次演出。三首作品的詮釋皆純熟精妙,令合唱團享譽國際的美名更上一層樓。

The evening’s principal work was Gregory W. Brown’s “un/bodying/s,” composed in 2017 and here receiving its world premiere. Set to a poem by Todd Hearon that refers to the flooding of two small towns in Massachusetts to build a dam to provide fresh water for Boston, the work is divided into four movements. The first, “The Meeting of the Waters,” proffers discernible melodic motifs and accessible harmonic progressions, sometimes even recalling the tonality of a sea chantey. The second, “The Valley of Lost Names,” is voiced in full chords that project the poetry with supple expressivity. The choir’s men carry the principal thematic load, with the women’s parts spinning a decorative haze around it.

當晚的主要曲目是布朗(Gregory W. Brown)的《去/身體/眾》(un/bodying/s),作品完成於 2017 年,這場音樂會是全球首演。歌詞採用托德・希倫(Todd Hearon)所寫的詩,內容描述麻州的兩座小鎮,為了建築水庫提供波士頓淨水而遭淹沒的故事。作品分為四個樂章,第一樂章〈水的交會〉(The Meeting of the Waters)有明顯的和聲進程,有時甚至教人想起水手歌的調性。第二樂章〈佚名的山谷〉(The Valley of Lost Names),運用了完整的和弦,充分發揮了詩的表現性。樂曲的主題部主要由合唱團男聲負責,女聲則編織出華美的氛圍。

The third movement, “Questions for a Disincorporation Atlantis,” speaks in a harsher tone. Its texture is like that of a two-part invention by J.S. Bach, but one in which each voice is multi-layered into many melodic strands. Its shape is angular and its flavor sharp and tart. The final movement, “Poem with Any End,” sports a central melodic core much like the “cantus firmus” of medieval polyphony surrounded above and below by harmonic contrapuntal melodies. Its tone is sweet and its mood reflective, offering clouds of harmonies free from rhythmic propulsion that coalesce into a whispered unison at its conclusion.

第三樂章〈解體亞特蘭提斯的疑問〉(Questions for a Disincorporation Atlantis)的調性就較為刺耳。其結構紋理類似巴哈的兩聲部創意曲,但每個聲部都各自有多條旋律線的層疊。型態較多稜角,滋味也較尖銳刺苦。終樂章叫做〈詩有盡〉(Poem with Any End),核心旋律類似中世紀複音音樂,所謂的定旋律(cantus firmus)曲中和聲與對位旋律此起彼落,相互陪襯。其音調甜美氣氛沉思,和聲如雲霧氤氳,節奏通達自在,結尾如呢喃低語般融為一體。

Nally led The Crossing in a performance characterized by a broad swathe of colors voiced in immaculate tuning, a seamless blend of a plethora of individual voices, and a flawless clarity of texture and linear balance.


Dai Fujikura’s “Zawazawa” in its American premiere opened the concert. Using Japanese onomatopoeia for its several texts, it speaks in waves of sounds that swell from soft to loud and back to soft again. Although there is no sense of traditional chord progressions, there’s nonetheless a feeling of ordered movement in which a growing and lessening momentum opens and closes into and out of harmonies of many individual notes and pitches. Until all of a sudden the music hits a glitch, much like when the stylus needle of an old LP player hit upon a scratch, and repeated a syllable over and over again. And then the music moves onward until its calm, gentle conclusion.


Nally and The Crossing performed “Zawazawa” with consummate intensity of colors and transparent delicacy of textures. The music moved forward with an admirable inevitability.


The concert’s second world premiere was Efstratios Minakakis’ “Crossings/Crossings’ Epigrams,” set to an original Greek text that recalls migrants fleeing from turmoil and things irretrievably lost. If its lyrics are, indeed, tragic and elegiac, Minakakis’ musical response was harsh to the point of repellant. The score required not so much singing as screeching. It delineated not so much drama as catastrophe. One felt not so much melancholy as madness. It stands as a testament to the first two decades of a century that has already surpassed the brutality of its predecessor, once considered to have been the most horrifically brutal in all of history. It’s been quite a journey since Marcel Proust wrote “Remembrance of Things Past” a century ago. Those “sessions of sweet silent thought” have been replaced by harrowing nightmares, which Minakakis translated into a piece of choral music that received a shattering performance Saturday evening.

這場音樂會第二首世界首演的曲目是米納卡奇斯(Efstratios Minakakis)的《穿越/穿越雋語》(Crossings/Crossings’ Epigrams),全新創作的希臘文歌詞描述逃離動亂的移民心聲,以及對事物面目全非的感慨。搭配上如此哀戚的歌詞,米納卡奇斯的音樂刺耳得幾乎教人不適。樂譜上對歌手的指示幾近尖叫,樂曲所描繪的景象與其說是悲劇,不如說是災難。聽眾感受到的不是哀傷而是瘋狂了。二十一世紀前二十個年頭之嚴峻殘酷,已超越百年前被視為人類歷史中最慘烈的那段時期,而這首曲子也驗證了這一點。從普魯斯特(Marcel Proust)一世紀前創作《追憶似水年華》至今,人世早不復以往。當年普魯斯特筆下「甜蜜靜思的時刻」,如今已被恐怖夢魘所取代,米納卡奇斯將這一切化作合唱樂,在週六晚間獲得摧枯拉朽的精彩詮釋。

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(A portion of this review was printed in the Chestnut Hill LOCAL 6/29/2017.)

(文章部分摘選在費城的Chestnut Hill LOCAL 6/29/2017。)


Translated by Chen Yihsuan 陳逸軒譯