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Interview with Constantin Răileanu, founder and director of the Old Music Ensemble ”Anton Pann”

Tuesday, 23 May 2023 , ora 15.26

During this period, the "Anton Pann" Ensemble is going on an international tour as part of the "Restitutio Cantemir" project, celebrating with this occasion the 350th anniversary of the birth of the great man of culture and prince of Moldova, Dimitrie Cantemir. We learn more from Constantin Răileanu, the founder and director of the "Anton Pann" Old Music Ensemble, in an interview given to Ioana Țintea.

What were your thoughts when you started the tour and how did the audience in Europe receive Cantemir's music?

Our first thought was to present our most famous business card, namely the music of Dimitrie Cantemir - he wasn't famous for his music, but for his personality, in fact. But, through music, we found the easiest way to communicate, to more easily reach a public who isn't familiar with Romanian culture and with this musical side of Dimitrie Cantemir. The audience was more than delighted. Everyone was amazed that Romania has such music, as unfortunately they did not know about it, but they are now hoping to hear much more of this so little-known repertoire in the future. And as we've already observed in Romania, some younger ensembles have started to borrow from this repertoire to present it to the wider public. And, of course, at the international level, Cantemir is already part of the repertoire of several specialized ensembles, but we hope that he will become a composer approached not only by specialized ensembles, but also by other musicians who can certainly be inspired by the Moldavian prince's work.

The concerts will include works that are known for certain to have been created by Dimitrie Cantemir, which you will perform with the help of instruments specific to the period. Please give us more details!

That's right. Dimitrie Cantemir left a collection of 354 instrumental pieces, all of them belonging to classical music, to the Athenaeum's music, we could say today. Out of all of these, we have established definite authorship of only 18 pieces, 6 of which will be performed in this concert, the most accessible to the wider public, and an additional suite, the only remaining oriental suite in Romanian music, namely, on notes written by Anton Pann in one of his manuscripts. This piece is attributed to Dimitrie Cantemir, at least part of it, the opening part, but it was added just to show how important Dimitrie Cantemir was and how many pieces were traditionally attributed to him even though they were later creations.

These pieces are of course performed on instruments from that period, such as the lute, the oud, of Arab-Persian origin, the qanun, which is a multi-stringed instrument attributed to Pythagoras, but which was often used in oriental music, more known to us as the zither. The lute I was talking about is the ancestor of our Romanian cobza. Additionally, we have the tanbur, a long-necked lute at which Dimitrie Cantemir excelled, by the way. With the help of a video-holographic projection of the prince, Dimitrie Cantemir himself will play the ney, a wind instrument, made out of giant reeds. In addition to these, the organology of the ensemble will be completed by the violin, which was also used at the time in the Orient under the name kamancheh, the cello, which successfully replaces the viola da gamba from that period and, of course, from the area of ​​Armenia, because it was included at that time in the Ottoman Empire, we also have the duduk, and for percussion, the bendir and the tombak, which will be played by two musicians from the Lebanon and Iran area.

What is next on the tour itinerary?

After the concert in Krakow and the one in Berlin, we are now preparing for the Brussels concert, after which we will go to Paris. And from Paris we will go to Iași, where there will be a 3-day festival dedicated to Prince Dimitrie Cantemir. After that, we will take a well-deserved break, because we have our third album from Dimitrie Cantemir's collection to record in the studio, and in the fall we want to resume the national tour first, through several cities of the country. After that, we will continue in Turkey with a number of 4 concerts.

Interview by Ioana Țintea
Translated by Diana Ioana Sandu,
University of Bucharest, Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures, MTTLC, year II
Corrected by Silvia Petrescu