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Rob Schwimmer at the Northampton Center For The Arts, Northampton, MA

Lyn Horton By

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Given the seeming lack of interaction with the theremin, he demonstrated that its sonic potential was on a par with the expressivity of the piano, even when appreciated as a solo instrument, unaccompanied by other instruments or sounds. It's tempting to project that Schwimmer's autodidactic competence on the theremin has bled over into how he makes sound on the piano. Perhaps the theremin's propensity for sounding melodramatic in response to the physical movements in the performer—so less tactile than the player's engagement with a keyboard to produce sound—has increased Schwimmer's attention to the manner in which he addresses the piano keyboard—caressing, coaxing, stroking it to ensure the most eloquent response.

Whether it's the result of his listening to pianists from Bud Powell to Herbie Hancock, or to the music of classical composer Frederic Rzewski, or of being awed enough after seeing the late Clara Rockmore perform on the theremin to learn how to do it himself, the mystery of how Schwimmer's music comes together is a story that writes itself as the music unfurls. What Schwimmer produces matches his self-description: "a lover of beautiful sound."


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