The Patriot Ledger: WEIRD VIBRATIONS – What with the rave documentary ‘Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey’ having played across the country, and more and more rock bands using the theremin, the first electronic instrument, people are waking up to the sounds that made ‘Good Vibrations’ vibrate. If you want to hear more, pick up a copy of the CD ‘The Art of the Theremin: Clara Rockmore’. The disc came out 1987, but has seen a resurgence since the film came out. The quirky film revolves around the lives of theremin inventor Leon Theremin and Rockmore, his musical partner and romantic interest. The CD consists of classical tunes played by Rockmore on theremin, accompanied by only a pianist. Sometimes sounding like ghosts in the attic, it’s a perfect Halloween gift.
Digital Audio’s Compact Disc Yearbook 1988: ‘The Art of the Theremin’ is a true curiosity. Clara Rockmore, a pioneer of the theremin, apparently came out of retirement to make this recording. The theremin, which sounds vaguely like an excited female soprano, is one of the earlier electronic instruments in which the player uses the motion of her hands to play distinct notes. If the instrument sounds familiar to you, it is because Miklo Rozsa used it to great effect in Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Spellbound’ in 1945. It became so identified with that film that it was seldom used again. But on this recording the instrument soars through Rachmaninov’s ‘Vocalise’, Saint-Saens’ full-throated ‘The Swan’, and other selections by Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky. Rockmore is extraordinary in this first commercial recording of her work. It was produced by none other than electronic music pioneer Robert Moog. The theremin produces a throbbing vibrato that will at first amaze you, then delight you, and finally overwhelm you – if it doesn’t send you running from the room. This is one CD best taken in small doses.
Rachmaninoff: Vocalise (3:44)
Song of Grusia (4:15)
Saint-Saens: The Swan (2:56)
Falla: Pantomime (3:44)
Achron: Hebrew Melody (5:22)
Wieniawski: Romance (4:45)
Stravinsky: Berceuse (3:06)
Ravel: Piece en forme de Habanera (2:41)
Tchaikovsky: Berceuse (4:12)
Tchaikovsky: Valse sentimentale (2:06)
Tchaikovsky: Serenade melancolique (7:40)
Glazunov: Chant du menestrel (4:00)
Clara Rockmore, Theremin
Nadia Reisenberg, piano