Lydia Kavina – Original works for theremin

Original Works for Theremin

Joshua Pierce, piano Elizabeth Parcells, soprano Portland String Quartet
Composers: Bohuslav Martinu, Percy Grainger, Joseph Schillinger, Lydia Kavina, Jorge Antunes, Vladimir Komarov, Friedrich Wilckens, Isodor Achron

Lydia Kavina (1967) is the leading thereminist in the world today, according to the booklet. Beeing the granddoughter of Leon Theremin’s first cousin, she was the inventors last protégée. At the age of 9 she started studying the instrument, and her first concert, she gave at an age of 14. She studied composition and graduated in 1992 and she finished post-graduate studies in 1997. The cd Original works for theremin features two of her own compositions.

Melody (1929) and Mouvement électrique et pathétique (1932) are written by Joseph Schillinger. I would describe it as chamber music and it sounds quite American. Schillinger was interested in using electronic instruments.

Dance in the moon (1933) is written by Friedrich Wilckens. Its a duet between theremin and piano that reminds of Debussy.
Percy Grainger wrote Free music #1 (1936). He wrote this piece for four theremins, he choosed this instrument because he wanted to write music with tonal glides and curves. He compared composing for other instruments like having to paint in squares. An interesting comparising because in the same period many painters, mucicians were actually very interested in ‘working in squares’.

Fantasia (1944) is written by Bohuslav Martinu and I could play it all day long. His musical style fit very well with the timbral possibilities of the heremin. The piece is written for theremin, hoboe, piano and strings. The music sounds rather Amercial to me.

Isodor Achron wrote Improvisation (1945). It sounds somewhat experimental to me, I can’t quite describe it.

Lydia Kavia wrote Suite (1989). It’s a three movement (three tracks) piece. The first piece is a bit lyrical, the second is more expressive and exploits the possibilities of the theremin. The third piece is more lyrical again. The overall style, I would describe as modern chamber music.

She also wrote In the whims of the wind (1994). It’s a masterpiece! Its written for the soprano Elizabeth Parcells. Its a constant play between the theremin and Elizabeths voice. One moment they sound almost the same, the other moment contrasting.

The last two tracks differ from the rest of the cd. Mixolydia (1995) composed by Jorge Antunes is more a modern experimental piece. Although its based on a composition mode from the sixth century B.C. Its a dialog between theremin and tape.

Vladimir Komarov wrote Voice of the theremin (1996) using sounds of Lydia’s theremin and the voice of Leon Theremin. The sounds were processed by a computer. The music reflects the life of Leon Theremin.

I bought this cd because I wanted to hear theremin music, but I play it a lot, not just to hear a theremin. Even if you don’t particulairy care about the theremin but do like contemporary music, the cd is much worth while. Enjoy!

Published: Mode Records 1999. PO Box 1026, New York, NY 10116, USA.

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