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KUNIKO - cantus - Gramophone

Kuniko's first release, Kuniko Plays Reich (8/11), became Linn's best-selling album of 2011. And not without reason: the versatile Japanese percussionist's highly inventive and colourful arrangements of Steve Reich's music produced one of the discs of the year.

A more difficult task lies ahead in trying to persuade listeners that the same can be applied to Avro Pärt, however. Whereas rhythmic pulse and propulsion are built into the very lifeblood of Reich's compositions, the Estonian composer's music operates in a completely different way. It relies far more on the resonances of sustaining instruments such as piano and strings, or the natural cycles of the human voice. Sharp percussive sonorities of marimba and glockenspiel have little place in Pärt's music.

Kuniko does her best to soften and sustain, such as in the delicate versions of Cantus or the reverberant Speigel im Speigel, which serves as a fitting close. Unsurprisingly, the most convincing moment is reserved for Reich. New York Counterpoint continues where ‘Kuniko Plays Reich' left off.

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Gramophone
10 October 2013