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cantus

KUNIKO

cantus

...includes world premiere recordings
CKD 432 (Linn Records)
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$22.00

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Tracks: Listen and Download

Format
Track Time Listen
1
Fur Alina arr. for Vibraphone and Crotales

Fur Alina arr. for Vibraphone and Crotales

Composer Arvo Part
Soloist KUNIKO
Arranger kuniko kato
04:00 Play $1.70
2
New York Counterpoint arr. for Marimba

New York Counterpoint arr. for Marimba

Composer

Steve Reich

Soloist KUNIKO
Arranger kuniko kato
11:14 Play $5.10
3
Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten arr. for Marimba

Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten arr. for Marimba

Composer Arvo Part
Soloist KUNIKO
Arranger kuniko kato
06:27 Play $3.40
4
Fratres arr. for Marimba and Vibraphone

Fratres arr. for Marimba and Vibraphone

Composer Arvo Part
Soloist KUNIKO
Arranger kuniko kato
08:10 Play $3.40
5
Purl Ground

Purl Ground

Composer

Hywel Davies

Soloist KUNIKO
11:24 Play $5.10
6
Spiegel im Spiegel arr. for Marimba and Bells

Spiegel im Spiegel arr. for Marimba and Bells

Composer Arvo Part
Soloist KUNIKO
Arranger kuniko kato
10:25 Play $5.10
Total Running Time 52 minutes Purchase all tracks 
$13.00 
Prices shown in US Dollars

KUNIKO's eagerly awaited second album includes world premiere recordings of the percussionist's new arrangements of popular works by contemporary composers Arvo Pärt, Steve Reich and Hywel Davies.

The SACD layer is both 5.1 channel and 2-channel.

Download includes - cover art, inlay, booklet
KUNIKO

KUNIKO

KUNIKO is one of the world's most talented percussion soloists in today's contemporary and classical music scenes.
profile & recordings >>
Steve Reich

Steve Reich

"There's just a handful of living composers who can legitimately claim to have altered the direction of musical history and Steve Reich is one of them," states The Guardian (London).
profile & recordings >>

Best of 2013 Readers' Choice - The Washington Post: ‘Several people on my list are already getting copies [of this] insanely beautiful disc.' (Joshua Cheek)

Best Recording Award - 26th MPCJ Music Award (Music Pen Club Japan)

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.

Booklet notes

After the success of my first album, kuniko plays reich, I wanted to make minimalist music more accessible. This is what inspired me to make this recording. On this album, I experimented with the sounds that could be created by percussive instruments, specifically the variety of voices that could be created on the marimba. The result is a recording that showcases the colours, depth and dynamics of the marimba in a way never heard before. Each of the tracks has been kept as close as possible to the original recording session so as to preserve its sense of ethereality and organic acoustic performance.

As a child learning piano, I found myself held back by my small hands. As I grew older, I discovered the marimba and instantly knew this was the instrument for me. Despite that initial enthusiasm, after a while I began to feel limited by what I perceived as the marimba's constraints and moved away from it temporarily, not playing a single note for a number of years. Therefore it is with a great sense of accomplishment that as I continue my career as a soloist, every day I continue to surprise myself with the breadth of tone of which the marimba is capable. I now consider it the most indispensable instrument in my musical life.

My previous recording which features three of Steve Reich's counterpoints got me thinking about how I could arrange his New York Counterpoint for marimba. My performance of New York Counterpoint was completed only after much thought and deliberation, and after numerous live performances.

New York Counterpoint is among my favourite pieces and it is also one of Reich's most popular compositions. With this new recording, I have recorded all of Reich's counterpoints. Once more, I would like to offer my sincere thanks to Steve Reich for his advice and supervision as I arranged this beautiful piece.

With Reich's minimalism in my mind, I began to think about all of the other composers in this field. I found myself consistently being drawn into the world of another accomplished minimalist composer featured on this album: Arvo Pärt. His music is beautifully simple and comprises solemn, tender and sorrowful sounds. Whilst living in Belgium more than ten years ago, I found myself listening to his music in the quiet of night just as it was beginning to reach popularity. I rediscovered Pärt's music as I was working on Cantus. As I immersed myself in his musical world, I felt an unalterable sense of pleasure and found myself deeply moved.

The pieces I have selected to perform for this album will be familiar to anyone who knows Pärt's repertoire. I chose not only pieces composed for percussion instruments but I also chose compositions arranged for multiple instruments. I believe that Pärt's music has incredible qualities: the ability to convey the entire scope of human emotion as well as the immense force and harshness of the natural world in which we exist. As we delve deep into Pärt's world of minimalism, we are able to discover melodies and harmonies which affect both the heart and body profoundly.

Artistically, interpreting the raw emotion of each composition using only percussion instruments was a huge challenge whilst recording this album. I have taken every step to ensure that each track on this recording is as pure and as close to the original composition as possible by closely analysing the performance practices, recording locations and editing processes that I used. I am extremely grateful to Arvo Pärt for his generosity and support as I worked on these arrangements of his compositions for percussion instruments.

Contemporary music is often regarded as ‘difficult' . However, it is my hope that you will find this music accessible; I hope that you enjoy these performances, the compositions themselves, and also the differences between my arrangements and the original compositions. To encounter great music is a true joy and a great adventure; I hope you will discover this pleasure whilst listening to these beautiful pieces by these great composers.

Finally I would like to extend my most sincere thanks to the producers and engineers who have been so generous and dedicated to the long journey that resulted in the completion of this album, as well as to every company and individual person who has supported me in this enterprise.

Spiegel im Spiegel and Fratres

BankART 1929 NYK Studio is located in a warehouse district which overlooks Yokohama port. This is where the Arvo Pärt section of the project started.

Rather than being a well-equipped recording studio or a concert hall, BankART 1929 NYK Studio is an old warehouse constructed of thick concrete walls which is used as a performing arts space. It is one of very few places in Japan where I could achieve the levels of resonance required, unlike Europe which is filled with large, old buildings such as churches that have acoustics that can be experimented with. I loved the extreme echoing sounds I was able to create in this space.

Ultimately, the takes I chose from BankART 1929 NYK Studio were the main section consisting of three chords from the solo parts of Fratres and the entire recording of Spiegel im Spiegel. The acoustics at this venue allowed me to create sounds similar to the traditional suikinnkutsu (a Japanese musical instrument that creates dripping sounds), resulting in each note spreading across the performance space, delicately lingering in the air.

Für Alina

Situated in the mountains near Nagano is the small church where I decided to record Für Alina. Every sound resounded in the church as I recorded in the cold, ancient structure and the soft sounds of the ladybirds travelled through the stained glass windows. It was in this unique environment that Alina was born.

Cantus and New York Counterpoint

My greatest challenge during this project was to record New York Counterpoint and Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten. While it was necessary to use a studio to overdub both of these pieces, I needed the original recording to possess an airy, ethereal quality which would have been impossible to achieve inside a recording studio. Ultimately, I chose to record at Lake Sagami Hall; this concert hall has a very neutral character and provides a well-balanced acoustic reverberation.

In New York Counterpoint I wanted to highlight the waves of sound that appear at the beginning of the composition (and other various sections). I also wanted to express the movement of each note in the second movement with a softer marimba sound in an effort to mimic the sounds created by the original instrument: the clarinet.

I was keen to find a way of incorporating the sounds of the clarinet into my arrangements without resorting to artificial or electronic techniques. Luckily, I was able to find a way to organically replicate these distinctive sounds. I used the entire five octave range of the marimba made entirely out of wood in conjunction with specific mallets and striking methods: bass clarinet tonguing techniques were replicated by strikes with a large rubber mallet (commonly used with the balafon in Africa) and the xylophone-like high notes in the third movement were recreated using the core of the marimba mallet.

In Cantus I avoided the conventional tremolo on the marimba and instead I sandwiched the bars between the mallets. I played the whole piece at pianissimo, without changing my dynamics. On the recording, when you hear the dynamics increase I am adding one of the orchestral parts. With over 29 orchestral parts and the additional microphones required for this recording, we had over 200 tracks by the end of the recording!

Cantus is a piece of incredible imagery: alternately powerful and overwhelming like an organ and then soft and prayer-like. It inspires visions of the deep, dominant forces within the earth juxtaposed with the gentleness of rain falling from the sky.

Purl Ground

Another highly important piece is Purl Ground which was also recorded at Lake Sagami Hall. Written by the renowned British composer Hywel Davies, this is the only piece on the recording originally scored for solo marimba. Purl Ground was composed and premiered in Canada in 2003. Its British premiere took place in 2011 at the Cheltenham Music Festival and was performed by myself. Discovering this beautiful piece was a truly pleasant surprise for me. It is a fantastic minimalist composition that has become a favourite in my solo performance repertoire.

Purl Ground explores the quiet affinity between the bottom octave and the half-way point of the marimba. Beautifully written, featuring tremolo sounds that never surpass pianissimo, Purl Ground is reminiscent of a chorale, structured with a sequence of twelve chords and a special harmonic overtone that skilfully maintains a sotto voce dynamic throughout the piece. Purl Ground makes full use of the depth of the modern five octave marimba. Towards the end of the piece, a resonating sound, like a big bell, rings out endlessly. Achieving Davies' desired hypnotic ‘hum' in this recording required countless hours of rehearsals and recording takes. This piece is deeply evocative; when I close my eyes, I am greeted by visions of sunlight dancing on water, gently changing colour.

© kuniko kato, 2013

Top 10 placing for KUNIKO
05 August 2013
'Cantus' is No.9 in the Official UK Specialist Classical Chart
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American Record Guide
'This exquisite-sounding program offers compelling transcriptions of his Für Alina as well as the Cantus and the unforgettable Fratres.'
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Classical Ear
4 Stars
'The recording, as we have come to expect from Linn Records, is first class.'
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Audiophile.no
‘[If] Are you open to exploring new musical terrain, there's no reason to let this opportunity pass, with its innovative sound in many channels. Carpe Diem!’
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International Record Review
'...this thoroughly engaging, fastidiously produced recording casts the marimba in an entirely new light.'
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Gramophone
‘The most convincing moment is reserved for Reich. New York Counterpoint continues where ‘Kuniko Plays reich’ left off.’
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Baker & Taylor CD Hot List
'...masterful transcription...'
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All About Jazz
'As striking as the music is, the spectre of Kuniko in flight is equally striking from her athletically efficient performance to her precise and exquisite presence: a total artistic package, shining with grace and brilliance.'
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Facts & Arts
'Renowned Japanese percussionist Kuniko Kato makes stunning music from the simplest of instruments, stretching their sonorities to heights never previously heard on record.'
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Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review
'This is one stunning album. Kuniko is a phenomenon and she makes the music her own in sonically moving ways. Excellent!'
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La Scena Musicale
4 Stars
CD of the Week: '...outstanding. Why can't all records sound this good?'
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AllMusic.com
4½ Stars
'... the entire album is essential listening...'
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Infodad
‘Kuniko’s arrangements are attractive, and she certainly plays them well…’
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SA-CD.net
5 Stars
'The timbres and overtones are captured with extraordinary beauty.'
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SA-CD.net
4½ Stars
'...great minimalist music...Kuniko’s playing is – as ever – subtle, austere and hypnotic.'
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Irish Times
5 Stars
'Varied recording venues and microphone perspectives are used to create soundworlds of a delicacy and richness well beyond what the instrumentations suggest.'
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MusicWeb International
'Kato's superb control of the marimba and vibraphone deepens these pulsing, rocking and 'tintinnabular' effects.'
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The Independent
4 Stars
'...intricate rhythms are what catch the ear, but it's the overtones and silences that mesmerise'
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The Times
4 Stars
'Listening to these marimba rhythms is just right for a hot day, in fact it’s as refreshing as standing inside Niagara'


The Observer
'imaginiative reworkings...in the hands of a master marimba player...an absorbing recital.'
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