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Posted by Bob Sherman, September, 2016

If this were a confessional, I’d have to admit that it’s been half a year since my last newsletter, which celebrated Clara’s March 9th birthday and the Google Doodle that marked the occasion in such high style. No excuses, really, just terminal laziness combined with work on other projects. About which, please read on…

  • The most exciting news, perhaps, is the imminent release of a 2 CD set of never-before available Nadia Reisenberg performances. These range from solo pieces (including a haunting Glazunov Waltz and Liszt’s dazzling “Spanish Rhapsody”) to a Weber Duo with the famed clarinet David Glazer, plus Mozart and Beethoven Trios with Glazer and the equally eminent cellist David Soyer. Climbing further up the chamber ladder, there’s the Beethoven Piano Quartet and the Dvorak Quintet with members of the legendary Budapest and Galimir String Quartets. The notes include photos and mementos of Nadia, Felix Galimir and the Davids Glazer and Soyer from colleagues and family. The album, released by Roméo Records, should be out within the month (or maybe two – you know all about those best laid plans).
  • Meanwhile, further reviewing raves continue to come forth from the earlier Roméo release of Paul Doktor and Nadia Reisenberg’s performances of viola and piano sonatas of Brahms, Hindemith and Karl Weigl. A couple of excerpts:

From Carlos Maria Solares’ article in The Strad:

For these delicious old-world readings, Paul Doktor joined forces with Nadia Reisenberg, with whom he builds a wonderfully well-attuned duo. Both are larger-than-life musical personalities. They lay out the music’s structure before the listener with a clarity that is rewardingly beautiful in itself—a blessing after so many self-indulgent readings all of us could name.

And from Robert Maxham’s review in Fanfare Magazine:

Doktor’s partnership with Reisenberg truly blossoms in the sensitive and tender interchanges, magically quiet, yet richly expressive, in which they engage throughout the slow movement (of the Brahms F Minor Sonata). The mood and the rapt dialogue continue through the third movement, after which the collaboration bubbles effervescently in the finale.

Mr. Maxham’s perceptive and detailed analyses continue through each of the remaining sonatas, his overall recommendation concluding:

Anyone tempted to dismiss summarily the booklet’s unadulterated adulation for the performers should reserve judgement, for the proof of the CD is in the listening, and the listening here seems extraordinarily fine.

As gratifying as those reviews are, I was even more deeply moved by an e-mail from a long-distance friend, the renowned pianist, and professor at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, Erik Tawaststjerna. I had given him a copy of the album when he was in New York in June, and this, in part was his response:

Your mother’s and Paul Doktor’s playing is simply masterful and it gives us an idea how deeply spiritual and touching music can sound when it is approached in the right way. Unfortunately, we don’t hear this kind of playing very often in today’s world. Thus it is very valuable to have such documents at our disposal. Thank you!

And our thanks, needless to say, go in full measure to Prof. Tawaststjerna. Also, a nice postscript: the recording was recently nominated for a 2016 Grammy Award

  • Sony Masterworks has renewed its contract with McGraw Hill to publish and make streaming rights available for the 12th edition of “Music, An Appreciation,” compiled by former NR student Roger Kamien, including Nadia’s exquisite recording of Chopin’s Nocturne in E-flat, Op. 9, #2.
  • Two adjustments to the NR student list: turns out that Steven Glaser is not only a professor at Ohio State University, but head of its piano department. And while Davyd Booth is indeed a keyboardist for The Philadelphia Orchestra, he also plays regularly as a member of the violin section.
  • A grand welcome to Andrew Gentile, a brand new name on the roster. “You asked for any students of your illustrious mother to contact you,” Andrew e-mailed me, “and I gladly do so now. I am proud to have been one of her last students at Mannes, in 1982 and 1983. Well aware of the privilege, I recorded some of my lessons. After her passing, through much carefully focused study of her magnificent recordings, the lessons resumed in a very real way.”

Known for his many arrangements and piano transcriptions, including two Vivaldi concerti released on Naxos, and others on The Steinway Christmas Album, which reached #1 on Billboard’s Classical Chart, Mr. Gentile added a poignant personal remembrance.

“At the end of each lesson, Mme. Reisenberg would offer her students a delicious cookie from a fine nearby bakery, and a little chat would ensue. Well at the end of my final lesson of the school year, that moment came. But on this occasion, when she offered me a cookie, I presented her with a box of the finest cookies I could find, along with my thanks for the honor of being her student. Her reaction was priceless: “For me?!”, she exclaimed several times, her eyes almost welling up in tears. Among all her other magnificent attributes, this moment revealed the sheer tenderness of the lady. It would be the last time I would see her.”

  • On the theremin front, the aforementioned Google Doodle brought forth numerous requests for photos and other information by publications worldwide, from Rolling Stone to The Independent. A filmmaker in Berlin is planning to use Clara and Nadia’s recording of “The Swan” for a dream sequence; and a profile of Clara is being developed for broadcast on Lithuanian National Radio.
  • Perhaps the most unexpected use of one of Clara and Nadia’s recordings is for Meetic, a dating website based in France. Yes, in its forthcoming TV ad, a couple will find true love to the lilting accompaniment of Dvorak’s “Humoresque” (which can itself be found on “The Lost Theremin Album” from Bridge Records). Only in Paris.
  • A major exhibition devoted to Leon Theremin will be mounted by Madrid’s Fundación Telefonica from September 30th 2016 till April 2nd 2017. Included will be photos of Clara and Lev Termen, including one my son Steve took during their 1991 reunion in New York.
  • The featured display of Clara’s own RCA theremin, with photos, sound clips and related materials, is continuing for a third year in the “Artists Gallery” at the Musical Instrument Museum, in Phoenix, Arizona

Nadia Reisenberg

Clara Rockmore