Theremin prodigy Carolina Eyck and pianist Christopher Tarnow shatter theremin stereotypes with new LP

By on September 4, 2014

Carolina EyckButterscotch Records is pleased to announce the release of Improvisations for Theremin and Piano, the American recording debut of German theremin virtuoso Carolina Eyck with pianist/composer Christopher Tarnow, available Tuesday, November 18th. Conceived and created in close collaboration with label founder and maverick producer Allen Farmelo, Improvisations captures the finespun chemistry and musical intuition of Eyck and Tarnow playing in dialogue across a kaleidoscope of unedited improvisational vignettes, each evincing a unique tenor and palette that, taken on the whole, makes for a strikingly consistent album that also possesses a vast and complex emotional reach. For Eyck and Tarnow, this will be their first leap into the American new music arena.


Discarding more than half a century of American pop-cultural baggage accumulated during Hollywood’s most campy era, Improvisations reclaims the theremin as an instrument of sincerity, expressive nuance and artistic depth. While the theremin is currently experiencing a resurgence of interest along with early electronic music and analog synthesis, Eyck’s virtuosic and heartfelt performance on this LP defies these anachronistic interests as well. As she explains, “The theremin is such an interesting instrument with so many possibilities we can still discover.”


Eyck’s training goes directly back to Léon Theremin himself, beginning studies at the age of seven with Russian thereminist Lydia Kavina, herself a student of Theremin’s most famous protégé, Clara Rockmore. At age fourteen Eyck had grown frustrated with the limitations of her inherited technique and so developed her own method around a highly modified theremin. At age seventeen she published The Art of Playing the Theremin, the first extensive and arguably most influential method book for the instrument. Today, still in her twenties, Eyck remains one of Europe’s best kept secrets, with frequent engagements as guest artist with the Berlin Philharmonic and the Bern Symphony Orchestra, collaborations with composers ranging from Heins Holliger to Kalevi Aho, and engagements across Europe, Japan, Pakistan and Mexico, all while remaining relatively unknown in the US.


Eyck’s relationship with Butterscotch Records began last Fall, performing as part of the label’s celebrated Odd Harmonics concert series in NYC and was emphatically received by the standing-room-only crowd. Just days after this event, label-head Allen Farmelo went into Brooklyn’s Studio G with Eyck and Tarnow and recorded Improvisations in an intense yet egalitarian collaboration charged with the desire to present a daring and unprecedented record for this heavily stereotyped instrument. As Farmelo puts it:


“Carolina and I have a larger agenda with this record, which is to help bring the theremin out of the semiotic shackles of fifty-year-old Hollywood soundtracks and goofy pop songs. If anyone can do that, it’s Carolina playing freely with Christopher.” 

– Allen Farmelo, Producer


The album is boldly released with no editing to the improvisations, artwork by renwoned painter Tomory Dodge, and includes a full-length essay by Farmelo (who holds a graduate degree in Sociomusicology) about the theremin’s place in US cultural history, as well as about the experience of making the album.

C A R O L I N A   E Y C K

C A R O L I N A   E Y C K (b.1987) is a German musician and composer widely regarded as one of the world’s best thereminist. After her debut in the Berlin Philharmonic, she has been invited to the Bohuslav Martinu International Music Festival in Basel, the Davos Festival, the Konzerthaus Berlin, the Großes Festspielhaus Salzburg and the Palace of Arts Budapest. She has given concerts in Poland, the Czech Republic, Luxembourg, Sweden, Finland, Great Britain, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Japan, Mexico, Portugal, Hungary, Pakistan, Turkey and the United States.


She has collaborated with Heinz Holliger, Robert Kolinsky, Gerhard Oppitz, Andrey Boreyko, Michael Sanderling, Gürer Aykal, John Storgårds, the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Bern Symphony Orchestra, the Essen Philharmonic Orchestra, the Branden- burg State Orchestra, the Stuttgart Philharmonic Orchestra, the Lapland Chamber Orchestra, the Heidelberg Symphonic Orchestra and the Mozarteum Orchestra Salzburg. She was guest musician of the Hamburg Ballet performing “The Little Mermaid” by Lera Auerbach in Japan and San Francisco. In 2012, Carolina played the theremin solo at the world premiere of the two symphonies “Mesopotamia” and “Universe” by Fazil Say. Finnish composer Kalevi Aho dedicated a theremin concert to Carolina which she performed for the first time in October 2012.


Equally inspired by a passion to teach her craft, Carolina Eyck published The Art of Playing the Theremin, the world’s first extensive theremin method book, and has since conducted workshops, lectures and master classes worldwide. In 2010 she became the artistic director of the Theremin Summer Academy in Colmar, France.


C H R I S T O P H E R   T A R N O W (b. 1984) is a composer, performer, and recording engineer based in Germany. After studying piano with Mathias Petersen and Nerine Barrett at the Detmold School of Music, as well as studying composition with Reinhard Pfundt at the University of Music and Theatre Leipzig, he began working as a sound engineer at Leipzig classical label Genuin in 2008. He also has produced many productions and albums for other labels as well as radio stations, both nationally and internationally. Christopher’s recordings have been awarded the Echo Klassik (2013) and the Icelandic Music Awards (2012), and have been nominated for other prizes.


A B O U T   T H E   L A B E L

BUTTERSCOTCH RECORDS was founded by producer and recording engineer Allen Farmelo. The label is founded upon a commitment to the album as an artform. This is accomplished through an overt insistence on focusing and articulating the artistic goals during recordmaking, upholding high standards of audio fidelity, and a strong dedication the visual and tactile aspects of records, even in the face of digitization. These commitments are met with open arms by the artists on the Butterscotch roster.


Author: DaveHHM

Dave Luttrull: Owner/Editor in Chief of Hellhound Music. Star Wars nerd, Gamer, Destiny homer, blogger, writer and lover of all things music.