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Committed to Romanian Classical Music

Wednesday, 11 December 2013 , ora 9.37
The musicologist Martin Anderson is the architect of the two interesting projects, Toccata Classics and Toccata Press, which serve the less known compositions. At the Toccata Classics Publishing House there were inaugurated some projects dedicated to the Romanian music – to the works of George Enescu, Mihail Jora, Theodor Grigoriu. The last publication signed by Theodor Grigoriu and the violinist Sherban Lupu, “A journey into the universe of Byzantine music” brightened of a big success.

Mr. Martin Anderson, some years ago you set up the
Toccata Classics Publishing House. Which were and what are its projects? It takes much courage and a great challenge to roll out such an outline on an overloaded market.

I set it up in 2005, when I turned fifty years old. You must accomplish something great when you are half a century, and why should that great thing not be a record label? In substance, the idea was much older. In 1981 I started publishing books which I wanted to read, musicology books that in fact were written for Toccata Press because I was bored just waiting for some particular books to appear, and I decided to do it by myself. I want to emphasize the fact that at that time there were no English books about Enescu, an important composer, whom I would like to associate with Brahms and Shostakovich. I was taken aback not finding any volume about Enescu, and it took me some time till I finally found the author, at the end of 90’s. The same shade embodies Toccata Classics. I could not expect from some other record label to offer me what I wanted, and that was the moment when I decided to give rise to this Publishing Company. Its first head office was in Trondheim. Having a record label it was for me a very intense desire which came true.

Mr. Martin Anderson, George Enescu isn’t your only favourite. You have also completed your research and albums signed by some other great authors of the Romanian classical music.

Enescu is one of the most important composers, whose musical work I engraved on the disk. I would like to bring off more recordings because there are so many Romanian composers who are totally unrepresented in the Western Europe catalogues. Mihail Jora is unknown. I would begin with Anton Pann and I would like to come as far as our days. There is a recording of Dinu Lipatti. Anyone who can page through the catalogue of Romanian composers will associate it with Romanian history. Pascal Bentoniu is a very good composer and I spoke to the Arcadia Quartet from Cluj to record his six string quartets. In my catalogue, there is also a recording with Romanian pop music; there are so many important Romanian composers, such as Sabin Drăgoi, who should also be presented to a wide range of audience, along with some of his colleagues.

This year you have recorded some works signed by Theodor Grigoriu; an album which rejoiced over a great success. You collaborated with the violinist Sherban Lupu, as well.

Due to Sherban Lupu I found out about the project with Theodor Grigoriu. I have known Sherban Grigoriu for 30 years, since he did some recordings for a friend of mine, in the 80’s. Some years ago he gave a recital at the Cultural Institute in London, and I went to say hello to him 20 years since I had last seen him. And we started talking upon some projects and he offered me the complete music for violin and piano by Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst, on which he was working with a friend from The United State of America. So far we have accomplished four or five from a series of seven. These first recordings had been well comented on in magazines known in The United States of America, and in other countries, as well. In some articles there is mentioned the fact that Sherban Lupu plays with the passion of a nomadic and with the discipline of a soldier. Then, he told me that he recorded three works for violin which were had been written by the composer Theodor Grigoriu, whom I must confess, I didn’t know at that time. After Sherban sent me the recordings, and after I listened to them, I decided to record them; a beautiful, suggestive music. When I read the foreword and the notes written by Viorel Cosma about Theodor Grigoriu I was impressed by the number of musical pieces which he wrote. Somebody who is not a professional on the Romanian music and who doesn’t know much about this field can’t realise what values exist and this one can be a research and assessment project.

How was Theodor Grigoriu’s music received in the European musical space?

There were written some beautiful articles in some magazines. The audience was interested in the suggestive presence of the music and the Byzantine spirit suggested by Theodor Grigoriu, as well. It is as if you went into a church, where you could find the distinctive marks of an old culture. It isn’t only the music itself, but you can also have access to some other grounds, too through the notes. The critics had been perceptive to this.

Mr. Martin Anderson, which are your projects for
Toccata Classics? Which are the areas you want to prospect?

What I hope to accomplish for the Romanian music, I want to do also for some other cultures less known; I would like to go to Norway, Finland, Serbia, Spain or to Columbia in order to discover many artists. The world is full of very beautiful music, which the big record labels don’t find successful. I do understand this very well, maybe artistically it isn’t glittering, but from the legacy point of view it is important. Somebody has to do it. This won’t bring you any money, but it gives you gratification. As you mentioned, that the releasing of Theodor Grigoriu’s album brought him beautiful moments, these observations mean profound and real awards. In the field of Romanian music I’m working on an album with Mihail Jora. For now this is my only project. I had one with Anatol Vieru, which was lost. I would like to record more opuses by George Enescu, whose compositional catalogue is monumental; especially during the 20’ and the 30’s, there are some unknown opuses. One of the albums with George Enescu’s musical works, which is being prepared to be launched, encloses his songs, real gems.

At the end of our interview, Mr. Martin Anderson, is there anything you would like to communicate to our listeners?

Yes, there is. Fight for your music! Romanian musicologists, play the works of your composers! When you are invited abroad, play not only George Enescu’s works, but also take in your suitcases musical works signed by other composers, too. Make sure that Romanian artists promote the Romanian art. We have such a cultural legacy that you had better keep and take good care of. When you have such a creative personality as George Enescu, who can challenge the great values of the last century’s world, you have to know that Romania has deep cultural value.

Irina Hasnaș
Translated by Anca-Elena Băluț and Elena Daniela Radu
MTTLC, The University of Bucharest