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.'
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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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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'
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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 - International Record Review


15 October 2013
International Record Review
Peter Quinn

This follow-up to percussionist Kuniko Kato's acclaimed debut, ‘Kuniko Plays Reich' (Linn CKD 385,) is certainly one of the more unusual entries in Arvo Pärt's impressively vast discography. It features world premiere recordings of Kato's new arrangements of four classic works by Pärt: 'Für Alina', 'Cantus in memory of Benjamin Britten', 'Fratres' and 'Speigel im Speigel'. The Japanese-born, US-based percussionist rounds out the disc with Reich's 'New York Counterpoint' and Hywel Davies's 'Purl Ground'.

Situated in the mountains near Nagano, Japan, the acoustic properties of the small church in which 'Für Alina' was recorded are just about perfectly suited to the crystalline purity of the piece. Kato's arrangement for vibraphone and crotales - the former playing the lower ‘tintinnabuli' harmony, the latter playing the upper melodic line - works brilliantly, the constant note-against-note counterpoint ringing out to permeate the entire acoustic space...

...'Fratres'...is terrific. Arranged for marimba and vibraphone, the work's three motivic elements - the ever-present drone of a fifth, the repeating two-bar percussive motif, the six-bar modal melody - and its overall musical journey from consonance to dissonance and back, is most powerfully conveyed here. Kato articulates the clear formal shape with great care while creating that sense of stasis which is so critical to the works appeal. Similarly, Kato fully captures the circular repetitions and extraordinary stillness of 'Speigel im Speigel'. Originally written for violin and piano, the delicate arpeggiations in the piano part already possessed a palpable bell-like character, making this arrangement for marimba and bells seem entirely apposite. Representing Pärt's typically ingenious use of simple means, a seemingly endless melodic line consisting of phrases of increasing length and range which always return to the initial starting pitch, Kato's version now takes its place among many other fine arrangements of this beguiling piece.

The percussionist gave the world premiere performance of her marimba version of Reich's 'New York Counterpoint' in New York last year. Her recording of the work elicits some of the most exciting playing on the disc and, if the third movement doesn't possess quite the same high energy and jazzy syncopations of Evan Ziporyn on Nonesuch, there's a wonderfully joyous, dancing quality nonetheless.

Kato gave the British premiere of Hywel Davies's 'Purl Ground', composed in 2003, in 2011 at the Cheltenham Music festival. The only piece on the recording originally scored for solo marimba, its 12-chord sequence resembles a choral. Exploring tremolo sounds and the amazing timbral properties of the five-octave marimba, with a dynamic level that never reaches above pianissimo, at times it feels like your hearing an all-enveloping vibration, rather than specific pitches.

Made under the supervision of all three composers, this thoroughly engaging, fastidiously produced recording casts the marimba in an entirely new light. This, together with opening up the repertoire to other percussionists, is quite an achievement.


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