Related Reviews
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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Examiner.com
'If this is a representative sample (and there is no reason to believe it is not), then one can appreciate why Rossi was so admired by the Gonzaga Court.'
more >>
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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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'
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The Observer
'imaginiative reworkings...in the hands of a master marimba player...an absorbing recital.'
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Kuniko - Cantus - Facts & Arts


20 September 2013
Facts & Arts
Michael Johnson

Renowned Japanese percussionist Kuniko Kato makes stunning music from the simplest of instruments, stretching their sonorities to heights never previously heard on record. In her new CD, Cantus (CKD 432, Linn Records), she shows what can be done when her insight into contemporary compositions converges with her talent for composing, arranging, careful choice of venue, sound engineering and even the programming of a CD.

The title track, 'Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten', is an Arvo Pärt composition arranged by Kuniko and supervised by Pärt. She keeps to a pianissimo mood but gradually expands the piece with the addition of orchestral parts. When she has finished, twenty-nine parts have been layered under the dominant tones of her marimba. As she writes exuberantly in her liner notes, 'We had over 200 tracks by the end of this recording!' 

She collaborated with Pärt, Steve Reich and Hywel Davies in her arrangements and performances in these percussion versions of their work. She says she is drawn to contemporary composers because she wants to make minimalist music 'more accessible', and she achieves her goal brilliantly.

A followup to an earlier Linn release, kuniko plays reich, this CD opens with 'Für Alina', a short and quiet Pärt piece for vibraphone and small brass cymbals known as crotales. It creates a perfect somnolent mood for the rest of the program. She then moves into Reich's popular 'New York Counterpoint', replicating the original clarinet sound with special mallets and striking techniques on the marimba.

The most unusual piece is Davies' 'Purl', another marimba composition that makes full use of the instrument's five octaves. Always attentive to resonances, Kuniko struggled through multiple takes, she says, to achieve the humming sound that Davies required. I find myself agreeing with her description of the evocative images Davies has conceived. 'When I close my eyes,' she writes, 'I am greeted by visions of sunlight dancing on water, gently changing color.' 

Kuniko created and staged the Sound Space Experiment - Steel Drum Works four years ago in Tokyo and it still attracts an internet audience. This version of Ravel's 'Bolero' will stay in the memory for its extraordinary musicality and the evident joy Kuniko and a participating Tokyo audience derive from playing with oil drums, and rattles while she carries the melody on the Caribbean steel drums, marimba and vibraphone.

Kuniko is recognized internationally as perhaps the most innovative musician in her field of percussion. She has performed at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival and has worked with such conductors and composers as James Wood, Seiji Ozawa, Iannis Xenakis, Toru Takemitsu and the late Franco Donatoni.

Her recordings for Linn, a Scottish label, have recently become available in the U.S. through Naxos.

Kuniko's commitment to living composers is a welcome step in her development as a mature musician.
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