James Bennett II is a staff writer for WQXR.
Huge Theremin Ensemble Plays 'Ode to Joy'
Monday, December 26, 2016 - 12:00 AM
We’ve seen quite a few year-end lists leading up to this point, but none are better than our annual Classical Countdown which begins on Tuesday, Dec. 27 at 8 am. Each year, you vote in your absolute favorite pieces of classical music, and each year one piece emerges at or near the top: Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.
So, in great anticipation of that joyous fanfare, we share an unusual — but no less delightful— arrangement of Beethoven’s magnum opus. It’s performed by the Japanese matryomin ensemble “Da.” A matryomin is basically a theremin housed within a Russian nesting doll, or Matryoshka doll. The theremin-equipped ensemble is joined by pianist Masaki Matsui, who provides a grounding accompaniment.
Oh, there’s more. About two-thirds of the way through, Matsui breaks it down and leads the chorus of theremins in a bluesy breakdown of the symphony’s final theme. It’s a fun watch, but also makes you marvel at the creativity and coordination of everyone involved.