Clara Rockmore

Clara Rockmore's Lost Theremin Album

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In 1975, electronic music pioneer Robert Moog realized a long-held dream at his own expense, to document in high quality recordings the artistry of his idol, Theremin virtuoso Clara Rockmore, who was getting on in years. The equivalent of at least two albums were recorded at Producers Recording Studio in New York with Rockmore, her aging instrument that Moog had just revived from a state of disrepair, and Rockmore's longtime accompanist (and sister) Nadia Reisenberg. This resulted in the Delos LP The Art of the Theremin, issued in 1976 and still available from Delos as part of its Facet product line. While critics and fans of electronic music warmly received the album, it was hardly a blockbuster and the remaining tracks were shelved. Although three of the 16 unissued numbers appeared in a 1989 IPAM tribute to Nadia Reisenberg and is likewise still available, the rest remained stubbornly unavailable.

Cut forward 30 years, and all of the principal players are gone -- Reisenberg, Rockmore, and even Robert Moog have passed beyond the veil of the ether into that great tube amp up in the sky. Leave it to producer Robert Sherman, director of the Nadia Reisenberg and Clara Rockmore Foundation and son of Reisenberg, to get the missing 13 Rockmore/Reisenberg selections out, finally, on Bridge Records' Rockmore's Lost Theremin Album. The quality of Bridge's digital transfer of these 1975 studio tapes is outstanding and better than on the Facet issue; they have a nice top, are not hissy, and establish a pleasing sense of presence for Reisenberg's piano. In the case of the three tracks already circulated on the IPAM issue, Sherman has decided to replace Reisenberg's track with newly recorded chamber groups and guitarist Jorge Morel to good effect -- these cuts help refresh the overall texture of the album precisely where it might have bogged down. Rockmore's playing of the theremin, of course, is masterly -- girlish, like something between a violin and a human voice. Moreover, that was its tremendous significance; at a time when cynicism, and not a small amount of fear, was the average musician's take on the whole idea of electronic music, Rockmore proved that electronic technology could produce a result that was both musical and responsively human. As a representation of her gifts and overall contribution to music, Clara Rockmore's Lost Theremin Album makes the transition from being "lost" to leading the pack -- it is the best CD on Rockmore out there. Anyone interested in electronic music should own one.

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