Sonata for Violin and Piano “Mandarin” – adaptations from Chinese classical music (First print)
(born Chişinău, Moldova, 21 December 1985)
Sonata for Violin and Piano – ‘Mandarin’
Emerging amongst the circle of a new generation of artists, Dan Ţurcanu’s musical identity can be summed up as ‘an ebullient violinist combined with the assiduousness of a composer. The two sides are evenly balanced in his artistic career and have shaped his personality.
One of the first individuals who inspired him both as a violinist and as a composer, was Bogdan Vodă at George Enescu National School of Music in Bucharest, Romania. He had developed in D.T. a great passion for harmony, melodic formation and analysis along with orchestral playing. At the same time, Bogdan Vodă initiated a long-lasting inquisitiveness in D.T. to learning and playing diverse musical instruments which steered him onto the path becoming a composer.
At the National University of Music in Bucharest, Romania, where he studied composition, two of the most influential personalities were Dan Dediu with his lessons in form and structure of melody and Dan Buciu who instilled in D.T. a restless curiosity for the unusual modes and harmonies of Romanian folk music.
During his studies, some of his chamber works were awarded at national competitions. This includes: 6 Pieces in Romanian Style – 3rd prize at Liviu Comes Composition Competition 2008; Ballade for Violin and Piano – 3rd prize at Mihail Jora Composition Competition 2009; Adagio – 3d prize at National Competition for Choral Writing 2009; Fantasia for Violin Solo – Special prize at Liviu Comes Composition Competition 2010; 5 Songs for Voice and Piano – 3rd prize at Mihail Jora Composition Competition 2010. However, it was under the watchful guidance of his beloved mentor Nicolae Coman that D.T. graduated from university in composition. Coman, an advocate for in-depth development and care for harmonic subtleties in addition to their shared love for miniatures, has nurtured D.T. to become the composer he is today.
After graduation, D.T. received an internship at the National Historical Park in Sitka, Alaska where he was given the task of remaking, completing and translating Orthodox Slavonic books and scores belonging to the Russian Missionary Church brought by the Russian Imperial colony in the 18th century.
Between 2012-2016, he worked in the United Arab Emirates as a music instructor at an arts institute where he taught violin, piano and later on, guitar lessons. It was here that he was enchanted by the mystical world of Arabic music. It was also here that he learned to play the classical and electric guitar, as well as the Arabic Oud. Upon befriending Indian and Arab musicians and learning more about Arabic music, he began to transcribe and rearrange traditional Syrian, Lebanese, Egyptian and Persian music for classical western orchestras and for an eclectic ensemble initiated by him and a few musician friends. He also arranged music for beginners, amateur musicians in unorthodox ensembles, duets, chamber orchestras and symphonic orchestras.
To date, he has arranged over hundreds of pieces and this evoked a great passion in him to create didactic works, constructive books and inspiring educational compositions which led to the creations and publications of Pizzicato – Violin Lesson Book with Chamber Music Arrangements; Easy Oriental Pieces for Violin Beginners, Learn The UAE Anthem for Violin Beginners, Symphonic Exercises for 4 Violins – arrangements based on music composed by Lucian Beschiu, etc..
A development in his personal life led him to the discovery of Chinese and traditional Malay instruments. The Erhu in particular caught his eye and he learned to play it quickly. Soon after, he began analyzing, transcribing and rearranging compositions of which have become a long term publishing project in cooperation with Musikproduktion Höflich in Munich, Germany.
D.T. is primarily active in chamber music genres. He favors expressive virtuosity and challenges the capabilities of the performers and is always looking for unusual organic instrumentations and new sounds. The themes found in his music are often of dreams, meditation, laughter and irony, anxiety and sorrow, fascination with the human spirit, cultures and nature. Most of his music gravitates toward simpler melodies, neoclassical modes, harmonic experiments and with touches of dance-like and character spirit which is clearly noticeable in his 21 Miniatures for Piano Solo, Piano Solo Sonata. A strong influence comes from his violin background where the violin is the focal point and this is evident in most of his compositions, for instances, Four Sonatas for Violin Solo, Two Sonatas for Viola Solo, Three Sonatas for Two Cellos, Suite in Romanian Style ‘Dumplings’ for Violin and Piano, Two String Quartets and ‘The Black Violin’ – a ballet for soloists and string orchestra based on Maxence Fermine’s novel with the same name, choreographed by former ballet dancer Annie Liew.
With his ever growing curiosity for different styles of music, influences from Balkans, Romania, Arabic, Indian, Malay, Chinese and Persian can be found in his scores alongside with fundamental Western classicism. He aspires to revive the authentic elements of world folk music by combining it with modern influences and writing techniques as he had expressed in Seven Arabic Improvisations based on Seven Arabic Scales, Armenian Trio for Two Clarinets and Bassoon, ‘Mandarin’ Suite for Violin and Harp and Chinese Fantasy for Orchestra.
* All works mentioned above are published by Musikproduktion Höflich in Munich, Germany
Sonata for Violin and Piano – ‘Mandarin’
The ‘Mandarin’ sonata is part of a long term project at Musikproduktion Höflich to create a ‘Chinese Collection’ dedicated especially to string players. Dan Ţurcanu, the person behind this project, a violinist and a passionate Erhu player himself, hopes to “translate” accurately the music of the Erhu for the Western string players. He tries to keep the sound of the Erhu intact by writing the typical slides and ornaments of the Chinese instrument as genuine as possible, while, as a composer, he recomposes the accompaniment in a personalized style, intending to create a strong balance between the two instruments and emphasize strongly the authentic melody.
The exhilarating Horse Race (Sai Ma) composed by Huang Hai Huai was written in 1964 and made its debut at the 4th Shanghai Spring erhu solo competition. The rhythm was inspired by the Mongolian folk song the Red Flag Song which Huang expanded the simple rhythm to an explosive masterpiece. The music depicts the Mongolian tradition of horse-racing, for instance, the Naadam Festival, a spectacular scene of horses galloping and accelerating with enormous power and agility. The second movement ‘Spring Scenery of Jiangnan’ (Jiang Nan Chun), also known as ‘Jiangnan Spring Colour’ or ‘Spring Scenery in South of Yangtze River’ was composed by Ma Xi Lin and Zhu Chang Yao. The music derived from local Jiangnan folk songs depicts the beautiful scenery of spring in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River. As spring brings new life to the picturesque town, the music expresses the joy and enthusiasm of the people as they witness the flowers blossoming, the birds chirping and the river flowing gently. The third movement ‘Youth of the Wrangler’ (Mu Ma Shao Nian) is a piece of Mongolian origins, depicting horse agility and power.