Music from the Ether: Original Works for Theremin

Music from the Ether: Original Works for Theremin

The theremin may be one of the oddest instruments ever invented: the electronic device's high-pitched sound resembles no other--and you never even touch it to play it. It's become familiar from that novel Beach Boys solo on "Good Vibrations" and the occasional sci-fi score sound bite, but it's seldom thought of as the serious instrument its inventor Leon Theremin wanted it to be. This recording, like the must-have Clara Rockmore disc, <i>The Art of the Theremin</i>, attempts to change that. Lydia Kavina might very well be the best thereminist playing today; she's the inventor's last protégée (as well as being the granddaughter of his cousin) and her range on the instrument is unparalleled. Here, she tackles the body of work made specifically for the instrument from the likes of Joseph Schillinger, Bohuslav Martinu, Percy Grainger, Isidor Achron, and a handful of contemporary composers. Grainger's "Free Music #1" for four theremins eerily defies the bounds of written composition (Kavina plays all four theremin roles); Kavina's own <i>Suite</i> is an impressive showpiece of the instrument's range; and Vladimir Komarov's tape-and-theremin piece "Voice of Theremin" is built entirely of passages from the instrument and the voice of Theremin himself, all processed through a computer with stunning results. Martinu's <i>Fantasia for Theremin, Oboe, Piano, and Strings</i> is the disc's real charm: a 14-minute composition with plenty of oboe-theremin interplay and lovely string passages from the Portland String Quartet. For the classical fan who has everything, this disc may be the perfect gift. <i>--Jason Verlinde</i>