Cantus - KUNIKO
Linn Records CKD 432
Classical - Chamber
Arvo Pärt: Für Alina arr. for Vibraphone and Crotales; Cantus in memory of Benjamin Britten arr. for Marimba; Fratres arr. for Percussion; Spiegel im Spiegel arr. for Marimba and Bells
Steve Reich: New York Counterpoint arr. for Marimba
Hywel Davies: Purl Ground
KUNIKO's debut ‘kuniko plays reich' was acclaimed by the media becoming Linn's bestselling album of 2011. Her follow up recording, 'cantus', features six pieces arranged for five octave marimba or vibraphone, each chosen to fully demonstrate the colours, depth and dynamics of the instrument. The arrangements and recording have been made with supervision by the original composers: Arvo Pärt, Steve Reich and Hywel Davies.
KUNIKO gave the world premiere performance of Reich's New York Counterpoint version for marimba in New York in 2012. KUNIKO won praise from the composer himself who stated: 'Kuniko Kato is a first rate percussionist.'
The simplicity and beauty of Arvo Pärt's music has won the composer many fans. In turn Pärt is a fan of KUNIKO's arrangements having approved the new versions premiered on this album. KUNIKO has arranged four of his best-loved pieces including Cantus, a fitting tribute to Benjamin Britten in 2013, his 100th anniversary year.
Purl Ground is an original piece written by British composer Hywel Davies, which KUNIKO premiered at the Cheltenham Festival in 2011 to critical acclaim. The piece is arranged for solo marimba and makes excellent use of both tremolo and pianissimo effects.
Review by John Broggio - August 27, 2013
A disc that is far more satisfying in MCH than stereo.
Firstly, the playing: in Pärt's Fur Alina, Kuniko uses dazzling crotales above a soft, constant vibraphone; the effect is beautifully simple. Next up is Steve Reich's New York Counterpoint, arranged for marimba, which in the outer movements has the effect of waves of sound washing over the listener (in MCH). Returning to Pärt for his Cantus in memory of Benjamin Britten, this enormously powerful yet sparse piece originally for strings is sensitively played by Kuniko on tremolo marimba's that emit wave after wave of sound that, in MCH, engulf the listener most powerfully.
Pärt's Fratres here is perhaps the least effective arrangement for no amount of sympathetic rendition or recording (as Kuniko and her engineers supply here) will remove the sharp attack of a percussion instrument, quite a different effect to that originally intended; no matter, for the emotional pull of this deceptively simple music still comes across well. Davies' Purl Ground follows and this is a very sombre and moody conception which is vividly portrayed; Kuniko evokes unsettling emotions and is a measure of the power of her performance. Pärt closes the disc with Spiegel im spiegel; so successful is the performance that one is not concerned with the instrumentation in the slightest.
The recording is very very good in MCH; in Fur Alina, the layout seems to be in a huge arc that envelopes the listener - very effective indeed. In New York Counterpoint, Cantus in memory of Benjamin Britten & Fratres, the sensitive choices of positioning add a huge amount of textural clarity and spatial interest to the proceedings. The distant bell of the Cantus is marvellously evocative. Purl Ground and Spiegel im spiegel are both well recorded too, with Spiegel apparently laid out in a similar way to Fur Alina (we go full circle in MCH!). However, the stereo layer is far less satisfactory with the arc replaced with a straight line; the cohesion it could have bought is overshadowed by the lack of spatial separation which sounds rather like a very long marimba in too many occasions. For both, the timbres and overtones are captured with extraordinary beauty.
Recommended very strongly for MCH listeners, with caution for stereo listeners.
Copyright © 2013 John Broggio and HRAudio.net