In Iasi I had met Sandu, a fluier player, at the Avantaj, where, as I’m sure you remember, I performed in a jazz concert with the estimable Liviu Mărculescu. Sandu had a long fluier in metal that he had made himself. He changed the pitch by moving his finger on the end hole, in essence playing only the harmonics and not changing the length of the tube. Anyway, he knew a group in Suceava and later that evening he called me with some details. On the phone he spoke very loudly. I don’t know if he was compensating for the distance between our cell phones or trying to help me understand a foreign language, but in any event the name and number he gave me brought us in contact with the members of Flori de Zînziene folk group in the village of Zahareşti; singers, dancers and instrumentalists numbering around sixty. Sorin called and arranged a rendezvous at a country crossroads. We picked up Gheorghe Fărtăis, a trumpet and caval player and his young student, nine-year-old Gabriel, who plays caval.

Listen to Gabriel
Gabriel would be the star of the recording session. At the end of this session, I asked about violin players in the group, Someone got on the phone and arranged a meeting with the group's Primaş. We drove down to Suceava and met him at his bloc. His fiddle was at the Liceum de Muzica where he teaches so we piled back into the car and drove over there. He led us to his tiny office which contained a piano and numerous violins in various states of repair, a cobza a couple metronomes and a few bows hanging on the wall. He sent for a young accordian player and they started playing almost immediately. listen to the excerpt, he's playing great Carpathian style fiddle here; he is also an excellent pedagogue.

Hear Smochina and Co.
He spoke a little french and we communicated through an ungodly decimation of French and Romanian. After performing for a while I began to ask him questions about trills, ornamentations, bowings and the like.and he had clear answers for me which until now I had not really found. He even played me a slow motion Hora Martişulor so I can finally transcribe it correctly. He refused to accept money and it was only after my insisting on making it a donation to the school did he finally accept. I wish I could help him more, the atmosphere in the school was so positive and the level of playing was so high it’s a pity that they lack some of the things they need. The problem here was one of availability of instruments, and also money.

(I was able to supply them with seven bows once I got back to Bucharest)

next: 27 October: Bukovina, Bilca

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