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Kuniko Kato — Cantus (2013)

 Kuniko Kato — Cantus (2013)

Kuniko Kato — Cantus
•  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. The Studio Master files are 192kHz / 24 bit.
•  ‘Kuniko Kato is a first rate percussionist who has put a lot of careful thought and hours of rehearsal into making this excellent [album]. She has created new and very beautiful arrangements.’ Steve Reich
•  ‘Kuniko has since established herself as one of the world’s foremost interpreters of Reich’s percussion pieces...’ Time Out Tokyo ‘It’s a hypnotic and strangely calming experience.’ The Observer
Location: Toyohashi-shi, Aichi, (時習館高等学校) ~ Kunitachi, (桐朋学園) Tokyo, Japan ~ Rotterdam, Netherlands ~ Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.
Album release: June 8th, 2013
Recording Date: August 4, 2012 — August 8, 2012
Styles: Chamber Music
Record Label: Linn Records (Catalog #: 432)
Duration:     51:41
01 Für Alina  (Arvo Pärt)     3:58 
02 New York Counterpoint  (Steve Reich)     11:14 
03 Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten  (Arvo Pärt)     6:28 
04 Fratres  (Arvo Pärt)     8:11 
05 Purl Ground  (Hywel Davies)     11:25 
06 Spiegel im Spiegel  (Arvo Pärt)     10:25
•  All compositions arranged and performed by Kuniko Kato. Original compositions and supervision by Arvo Pärt, Steve Reich and Hywel Davies.
•  Für Alina, Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten, Fratres, Spiegel im Spiegel
•  © 2012 by Universal Edition A.G., Wien.
•  New York Counterpoint ©1987 by Hendon Music, Inc. This arrangement was made by permission of Boosey & Hawkes Music Publishers Ltd.
Album Moods: Delicate Ethereal Hypnotic Introspective Meditative Shimmering
•  Recorded at BankArt 1929 NYK Studio, Yokohama, Japan, 4-8 August 2012; Lake Sagami Hall, Kanagawa, Japan, 2-5 & 18-22 November 2012; Church at Azumino, Nagano, Japan, 6-7 November 2012
•  All tracks are recorded at 24-bit / 192kHz.
Recording Engineer: Yuji Sagae & Junichiro Hayashi
•  Design by gmtoucari.com
Track 01 written: 1976; USSR
Track 02 written: 1985; USA
Track 03 written: 1976; Estonia
Track 04 written: 1977-1980; Estonia
Track 05 written: 2011
Track 06 written: 1978; USSR
•  Mario Boccia  Photography
•  Kim Campbell  Production Coordination
•  Hywel Davies  Composer, Supervisor
•  Junichiro Hayashi  Engineer
•  Philip Hobbs  Executive Producer
•  Kuniko Kato  Arranger, Bells, Crotale, Liner Notes, Marimba, Mixing, Percussion, Producer, Vibraphone
•  Bastiaan Kuijt  Mastering
•  Michiyuki Ohba  Photography
•  Arvo Pärt  Composer, Supervisor
•  Steve Reich  Composer, Quotation Author, Supervisor
•  Yuji Sagae  Engineer, Mixing, Producer
Review by James ManheimScore: ****½
•  Kuniko Kato, who goes by the single name Kuniko, is an emerging Japanese marimba and vibraphone virtuosa who stirred up considerable attention with her 2011 release Kuniko plays Reich.
•  Cantus, which is curiously named, expands on the transcription ideas developed for the earlier release.
•  Kuniko sets out to expand the sonic vocabulary of her percussion instruments through the use of various mallets and strike techniques. This is an extremely intriguing idea, for latter-day developments in minimalist music have involved experiments with extending its range without losing its basic aesthetic. Kuniko thus hits a certain sweet spot, and it’s no surprise to learn that all three of the composers featured here — Arvo Pärt, Reich once again, and British minimalist Hywel Davies — supervised and approved of Kuniko’s arrangements. At times it is hard to believe you’re hearing just a single marimba (additional instruments, all played by Kuniko, appear on only three pieces). In Reich’s New York Counterpoint the marimba emits eerily clarinet-like sounds. But perhaps the strongest performances are those of Pärt’s music, where Kuniko keeps the sounds a bit simpler and lets the instrument flower into the resonances that are at the heart of the composer’s brand of minimalism. It is no wonder the elderly Pärt liked these renditions, which extend his language in a totally ingenious and musical way. The final Spiegel im Spiegel (Mirror in Mirror) is haunting, and the entire album is essential listening for anyone with the slightest interest in contemporary percussion.
Website: http://www.kuniko-kato.net/
MySpace: https://myspace.com/kunikokato
Twitter: https://twitter.com/KKUNIKO
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kuniko.kato.357
Label: http://www.linnrecords.com/
Norman Lebrecht; La Scena Musicale; 05 September 2013
Score: ****
•  Sir Thomas Beecham used to call his percussion ‘kitchen instruments' and treat the players at the back of the orchestra like household staff. Percussion has come a long way since then, both in the diversity of instruments and in force of ambition.
•  Kuniko Kato, a US-based Japanese virtuoso, applies her marimbas, crotales, bells and vibraphones to the works of living composers, several of whom are delight in the extra colours and dimensions she adds to their work. Arvo Pärt and Steve Reich, meticulous to a fault, assisted in the making of this album.
•  Reich's landmark 1985 work New York Counterpoint is shaded by Kuniko gently away from its original insistent heaviness into a sound picture that recalls Hokusa's Wave, the original cover of Debussy's La Mer, a seascape full of promise and menace. •  Four pieces by Pärt are imbued with a shimmer so haunting that you forget they were originally written for strings - none more so than the 1977 Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten which, no longer mourning, finds a certain celebration in a composer's life. The sound, recorded at 24-bit/192hz by Yuji Sagae and Junichiro Hayashi, is outstanding. Why can't all records sound this good?
ADAMS: http://www.adams-music.com/
ANNA PICARD   SUNDAY 28 JULY 2013; Score: **** (http://www.independent.co.uk/)
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 prayerlike. 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
Special thanks: Seiji Murai, Tsuyoshi Yasukawa, Michio Akiyama, Anna Suzuki, Yoichi Toishi, Yumiko Tanaka, Natsuki Urushibata, Takafumi Oike, Makoto Ohara, Shoichi Kado, Akira Fukada, 2 Seigen Ono, Yasushi Tanaka, Norio Sato, Taimi Paves, Eric Marinitsch, Aygün Lausch, Andy Ito, Cathy Jefferies at Linn Records, ADAMS, Pearl, RME-Synthax Japan, MI-7Japan, Steinberg, CottaTV, Sanken, Fujitsu-Ten Corp, Saito, Lake Sagami Hall, BankART 1929, Hakuju Hall, Hotaka View Hotel, Boosey & Hawkes, Universal Edition AG, Arvo Pärt Center and Istituto Giapponese di Cultura in Roma.

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