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KUNIKO - kuniko plays reich - The Big City Blog

04 June 2012
The Big City Blog
George Grella

It seems the Art Space strug­gles against this obsta­cle. Reich is titan of con­tem­po­rary music and, in a coun­try where com­posers don't reg­is­ter on the pub­lic con­scious­ness, he is gen­er­ally pop­u­lar with sophis­ti­cated fans of all sorts of music. Yet Kuniko's con­cert was lightly attended, and much of the audi­ence seemed con­nected to the music through the Con­sulate Gen­eral of Japan. This was an excel­lent con­cert. The music, "Elec­tric Coun­ter­point," "Six Marim­bas," Ver­mont Coun­ter­point" and "New York Coun­ter­point," with mod­est and lovely arrange­ments of Bach and Komi­tas, speaks for itself, and Kuniko's craft is supe­rior. Reich's work lends itself eas­ily to tran­scrip­tion to other instru­ments, and the pit­fall is that it is so easy that the results can be lazy and dull. She has a sub­tle and imag­i­na­tive ear for color, and mov­ing the lead voice of the open­ing move­ment of "Elec­tric" to steel drums was a gor­geous touch, adding a shim­mer­ing, sus­tained rich­ness as well as a delayed attack that made for a new, ambi­ent quality.

Per­cus­sion instru­ments call for a great appar­ent phys­i­cal­ity in play­ing than gui­tars or vio­lins or flutes, and that was visu­ally impor­tant in the con­cert, not only the effort of Kuniko in strik­ing metal and wood with beat­ers, but her danc­ing move­ments. She was filled up with the phys­i­cal­ity of Reich's beat, even as the sonic edge of the musi­cal was gen­tler, as in the trans­fer of "New York" from pip­ing clar­inets to mel­low marim­bas. The music is very well known by now, but she made it refresh­ing. With her own ear and taste she responded to pieces that she clearly feels are beau­ti­ful and gave us music-making that took for granted the intel­lec­tual suc­cess of the composer's process and craft and gave us the sheer beauty of it, and that's a con­sid­er­able thing.

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