Simion Stanciu is one of the great nai, or pan-pipe players of Romania. A longstanding ensemble musician with the big state ensembles of the 1970s, he was also allowed by the state to make a few solo records. This one is one of the very few in existence. I met him first in the late 1960 when he was part of the touring Romanian State Folk ensemble and I filmed the group. Years later we renewed acquaintanceship in Rangoon, Burma where I was doing research and he arrived with a Romanian State Ensemble, perhapsnthe Rapsodia Romana. It was he, Simion, who persuaded me then and there that I could learn Romanian easily and that I should come and do research in Romania, which I did.
After defecting to Western Europe he made a number of excellent recordings of European Classical music for the flute, Bach, Mozart and then several flute concertos of Vivaldi and Telemann, the most impressive aspect of which was that none of these was transposed to make them easier to play on the pan pipes. He adjusts everything by deft and slight motion of the head, up and down, to produce the correct pitches. Some of these recordings are still available.
On this recording he is accompanied by a standard small folk ensemble. During the 60's and 70s this is the way that traditional Romanian folk music was being promoted by the state and presented by the state recording company, Electrecord. All of the names of the compositions that are dance rhythms are given names suggesting that they were drawn from the folklore of some region of Romania. In fact, there were largely new compositions in the folk style but since in the Romanian state definition of folklore, there could be no "composers", there are all passed of as "traditional". Mixed into these recordings are a few songs that were actually urban popular (Rom or Gypsy songs) popular at the time. These are the songs like, "Tot am zis, ma duc, ma duc"(I've said everything, I'm going, I'm going) and the Gypsy Wedding dance for the morning after the wedding, Hora Dinspre Ziua.
1. Hora Rudarenilor
2. Sirba Olteneasca
3. Pe Marginea Dunaru
4. Hora Dinspre Ziua
5. Breaza de la Cernavoda
6. Une cucu de trei Zile
7. Briu Banatean
8. Primavara - I mama noastra
9. Tot am Zis, ma duc, ma duc
10. De Doi
11. Hora Tesisenilor
12. Geamparale de la daieni
13. Ferice, codre, de tine
14. Sirba Ploiestenilor
I have a few more recordings of Stanciu that I will add here shortly.
A note on the Romanian Nai: Great national pride in Romania is associated with the instrument, the nai. In Romania one often heard it said that the panpipes were a clear link to the Greco-Roman tradition. The pattern of distribution for the panpipes through out the world is widespread but with clear generic relationships. The oldest strata appear with the Hill Peoples of Asia and in the Pacific and also throughout Africa, South of the Sahara. It does appear in Europe during the time of the Greek and Roman empires but, with the exception of Romania, except for a few examples such as Spain or as a child's toy it has disappeared from Europe.
During the period of the great Eastern empires of Persia, India, Central Asia, China, Korea and Japan, the panpipes were a main stay of of the great court orchestras. Perhaps as the musical style changed the panpipes gradually fell out of favor. For this reason they are no longer played except by those cultures representing the oldest strata in Asia, the hill peoples and some groups in the Pacific. In the Ottoman empire as in Persia the panpipes continued to be played and gradually went out of use as the music changed, perhaps in the 17th Century.
In Romania, the panpipies has traditionally been in the domain of Rom musicians. Their role as purveryors of music under the Ottoman Turks in Romania shifted as they moved into the towns and villages and sought a livelihood there by leasrning the local folk music. But the Rom preserved in their performance what elements of Turkish Ottoman music that survive in Romanian music and thus the Ottoman miskal , the Ottoman name for the panpipies and the name by which it was previously known in Romania was found among the Rom and never until recently among the Romanian peasants. In fact, the old Romanian name for the Panpipe player was miskalagiu, rather than the more recenly used work, naist . It does seem pretty clear that the Rom preserved and mastered the miskal, or nai as part of the Ottoman tradition.
Some years ago, while talking with the great Turkish musician, Necdet Yasar, I asked him what he imagined of the playing of the miskal in the old Ottoman Court music tradition. He said the must have been very simple because it is a very simple instrument. Then I played for him Simion Stanciu's "Mindrele" and he was amazed. Later after also hearing some recordings of Romica Puceanu, he said, "Ah,If I were younger, I would learn this music now."
Also please note that I am putting up my own field recordings from Romania made in 1977. romania-1977
Department of Anthropology