Golden Horn Releases Cantemir

18 March 2004


Golden Horn Records is very pleased to announce its release of Cantemir: Music in Istanbul and Ottoman Europe around 1700, an authoritative album celebrating the musical life of Prince Dimitrie Cantemir (1673-1723). The album features co-directors Ihsan Özgen and Linda Burman-Hall, and the Santa Cruz-based quintet Lux Musica.

Prince Dimitrie Cantemir (1673-1723) was born in Moldavia, then at the rule of the Ottoman Turks. Dimitrie was sent to Istanbul as a guest of the court to ensure Moldavia’s loyalty. Here Cantemir studied the tanbur, a long-necked Turkish lute, earning a reputation for his knowledge of the historical Ottoman repertoire and theory. Cantemir’s Kantemir Edvari was a major contribution to musicology preserving 352 works in a unique notation style he developed to document his music study, known as ebcet. Many of these works were composed in the Ottoman pesrev and saz semai forms.

Cantemir examines three repertoires. The section titled “The World of Cantemir: Istanbul and Ottoman Europe around 1700” explores music composed by Cantemir and also traditional Moldavian dances, such as Cantemir might have heard back home at his wedding. The section “New Music in Honor of Kantemiroglu (Prince Cantemir)” features a kemençe taksim (solo improvisation for the bowed instrument, kemençe), a form that had just gained popularity when Cantemir was in Istanbul, and a beraber taksim (collective improvisation), a contemporary experimental form of improvisation pioneered by Ihsan Özgen. The new music section debuts two compositions inspired by Cantemir’s musical legacy. “In Honor of Prince Cantemir” (track 14) was composed by internationally celebrated composer Lou Harrison and arranged for this recording by Linda Burman-Hall. “Andante from Concertino per Kemançe” (track 16) was composed by Yalçin Tura, a devoted scholar of Cantemir who recently published a full transcription of Cantemir’s Book of the Science of Music. The third section, “Turkish Images, European Reflections,” presents English and French music in the alla Turca style, a style popular in the 18th century that included Turkish-inspired percussion, rhythms, and “exotic” melodies. One such work is Ben Jonson’s “The Turks’ Dance” (track 20).

Ihsan Özgen (kemençe, tanbur, co-director) is a self-taught musician, composer, and teacher of the Classical Ottoman music of Turkey. He is famous for his kemençe performances and for his improvisation of melodic taksims. In 1991, Özgen was awarded the Abdi Ipekçi Peace Award in recognition of his work with the Bosphorus ensemble, a group composed of Turkish and Greek musicians. He is also the leader of the well-known ensemble Anatolia. An instructor at the Istanbul Turkish Music Conservatory and former guest lecturer at University California at Santa Cruz, Özgen is a leading specialist and interpreter of Tanburi Cemil Bey, an early 20th century Turkish composer.

Linda Burman-Hall (early keyboards, bendir, co-director) is a musicologist/ethnomusicologist best known as a performer of historic keyboard works. Burman-Hall’s interests and skills are wide-ranging, including: performances with contemporary music artists Steve Reich and Meredith Monk; premiering and editing new works by contemporary Indonesian composers; and performing the works of medieval mystic Hildegard von Bingen. Burman-Hall is a faculty member of the University of California at Santa Cruz music department, a founder and artistic director of the Santa Cruz Baroque Festival, and the musical director of Lux Musica.

Lux Musica is the quintet of Lars Johannesson, David Wilson, Amy Brodo, Mesut Özgen, and Linda Burman-Hall. Dedicated to presenting interesting and beautiful works from the Enlightenment, Lux Musica draws on a versatile combination of historical flutes, violin or viola, violoncello or viola da gamba, and historic keyboards with percussion. A mainstay of the Santa Cruz Baroque Festival, their work can also be heard on several CDs, including their debut recording Haydn and the Gypsies: Music in the Style Hongrois and their recent Celtic Caravans: The Road to Romanticism.