The world of Cantemir arises in the crossroads of Western and Eastern thought, in the collision of Europe with the Ottoman Empire, and at the junction of Byzantine culture with Islamic theology. Our recorded recital celebrates the wondrous life of Prince Dimitrie Cantemir (1673-1723), a royal Moldavian linguist-encyclopaedist-composer who through curious fate spent 22 years as a diplomatic guest of the Ottoman court. The program presents some of the finest works of Prince Cantemir preceded by taksim preludes, as well as traditional Moldavian tunes and European alla Turca reflections of Ottoman music played in Baroque style.
During the twelve years Cantemir lived in Russia as advisor to Peter ‘the Great’, he wrote extensively as an orientalist and scholar. Musically, he assisted in the translation of Byzantine liturgy for the Russian Orthodox service, while his daughter Maria became well known as a harpsichordist in Russia, performing the ‘Italian’-flavored European classics favored by the upper classes. Although Cantemir was ordered by Tsar Peter to adopt European-style daily dress, he reportedly delighted in dressing up on holidays, occasionally staging nostalgic Turkish tableaux atop his parade float, costumed as a Vizier and reclining under a canopy with ‘Turkish’ attendants. With father/daughter performing skills ranging from Moldavian dance tunes to Ottoman and European classics, one can imagine common ground as well as contrasts in the private concerts of the Cantemir family, where the Turkish tanbur could meet instruments of the harpsichord family and many other imports from Europe known in both Ottoman and Russian courts.
Our program presents some of the finest works of Prince Dimitrie Cantemir (Kantemiroglu) in the varied contexts of his cultural world. Cantemir’s compositions are typically cast in pesrev or saz semai form, consisting of several sections (hane) with a ritornello (mülâzime or teslim) repeated after each.
We perform Centemir’s Classical Ottoman compositions preceded by taksim preludes, a new improvisational genre in the time of Cantemir; and where appropriate, we also explore modal relationships in experimental collective taksim improvisations, a contemporary experiment in preluding pioneered by Ïhsan Özgen. In dervish Sema (devotional music played for dance), the pesrev would commonly follow the unmeasured taksim prelude as a formal metered prelude set in a major usul (i.e., a rhythmic cycle of more than 15 beats). At the conclusion of the dance with its traditional music, another pesrev or saz semai may be played.
In addition to his compositions, we also present traditional Moldavian tunes such as Cantemir might have heard back home at his wedding. and European alla Turca reflections of Ottoman music played in Baroque style. The continuing significance of Cantemir as a force in Eurasian composition and performance is shown through recent compositions by Yalçin Tura of Turkey and Lou Harrison of the United States, honoring a remarkable life that continues to resonate.
Prior to Dede Efendi, lyrics of most compositions belonged to Divan poetry (Ottoman classical school of poetry). Dede Efendi also used his own poetry, as well as folk songs, as lyrics for his pieces. As a modal innovator, he created the Sultanî-Yegâh, Neveser, Saba-Bûselik, Hicaz-Bûselik, and Araban-Kürdî makams. While expanding Turkish traditional music with his secular and religious works, Dede Efendi also wrote pieces with the influence of Western music that he heard in the Palace.
New Music Composers
Yalçin Tura (1934), a well-known Cantemir scholar, recently published a full transcription of Cantemir’s “Book of the Science of Music” and wrote a Concertino for kemençe and 5 baroque instruments in honor of Cantemir during Summer 2000. He has been on the music faculty at the State Conservatory of Turkish Music in Istanbul since 1976, where he is director and head of the department of musicology. Mr. Tura studied violin with Seyfeddin Asal, harmony with Demirhan Altuõ, and counterpoint and composition with Cemal Resid Rey. Besides music, he also studied philosophy, pedagogy, and archeology at Istanbul University. A large portion of his compositions consist of film and stage music. His compositions comprise traditional Turkish makams (modes), jazz, folk, and symphonic musical elements. Mr. Tura won many awards for his compositions, which include two symphonies for large orchestra, sinfonia da camera, concertos for violin, viola and cello, toccata for orchestra, adagio for strings, works for violin and piano, string quartets, a ballet, and a melodrama. ‘Concertino for Kemençe and 5 Early Instruments’ was written in honor of Cantemir during Summer 2000, when Tura completed his edition of Cantemir’s book. The second movement is composed in saz semai form, in hüseyni makam (mode) with one strain in Saba makam, and in aksak semai usûl, a rhythm cycle of 10 beats, divided 3 + 2 + 2 + 3.
Linda Burman-Hall (early keyboards, percussion, co-director) although perhaps best known as a performer of historic keyboard works, regularly performs a wide range of music, from works of the medieval mystic Hildegard of Bingen to world premieres of experimental works and new music. She currently teaches at University of California - Santa Cruz. She has performed in the United States, Europe and Asia as well as for National Public Radio. In contemporary music, she has performed with artists as diverse as Steve Reich, Pauline Oliveros and Meredith Monk, and has commissioned, premiered, recorded, transcribed and/or edited new music by contemporary Indonesian composers, and performed several first recordings of works. As a specialist in music theory and performance, she holds degrees from the University of California, Los Angeles and Princeton University. Linda is also active as a musicologistethnomusicologist, with parallel career activities in early music performance and in Asian music research. She is founder and artistic director of Santa Cruz Baroque Festival, a nationally recognized early music producer. Her most recent recordings include 17th Century French solo music on Wildboar and an all Harrison solo recording on New Albion, as fortepiano and harpsichord concerto soloist with period orchestras on Centaur, and as director of other ‘crossover’ Lux Musica projects on the Kleos labels.
Lux Musica (Mesut Özgen - lute, early guitar, percussion, Lars Johannesson - flute and piccolo, David Wilson - violin and viola, Amy Brodo - viol, and Linda Burman-Hall, harpsichord, virginal, percussion, director) is an ensemble of virtuosi dedicated to presenting interesting and beautiful works from the Enlightenment, drawing on a versatile combination of historical flutes, violin or viola, violoncello or viola da gamba, and historic keyboards with percussion. Since its beginnings six years ago, Lux Musica has served as a core ensemble of Santa Cruz Baroque Festival, and presented concerts throughout Northern California. Ensemble projects have focused on the music of J.S. Bach, François Couperin, Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, often contrasting Classical chamber works with parallel traditions of instrumental folk music. Lux Musica’s signature debut recording in 2000 was ‘Haydn & the Gypsies: Music in Style Hongrois’ (with violinist Monica Huggett). A humorous CD ‘Classical Cats’ followed in 2001. ‘Celtic Caravans: The Road to Romanticism’ (with soprano Julianne Baird) is scheduled for release in 2004, all on Kleos Classics.