Kuniko Kato is a virtuoso Japanese percussionist who masters her art in an irreproachable manner. To be convinced, listen to her recordings of Reich, Xenakis, or Pärt, which show impeccable technique and musicality. In this work, she’s recorded the marimba repertoire of the Japanese composer Akira Miyoshi (1933-2013), who’s little known on this side of the world, but occupies an important place in her country.
Four solo pieces and a concerto for marimba and string orchestra form this tribute album, which covers some 40 years of creation. Across the pieces, it’s interesting to discover the perennial personality of the composer, while noting the evolution of his language. We find a composer for whom the economy of the material is key, knowing how to master the musical discourse by clear forms. As time goes by, the virtuoso gestures become more precise, giving more and more room to fast lines and extreme registers, and highlight the interpreter more.
The concerto for marimba and string orchestra, the string part of which has been entrusted to the Scottish Ensemble, is particularly successful in terms of texture: the strings hold a tragic discourse with dark colours reminiscent of Viennese expressionism of the early twentieth century, which contrasts with the naturally soft and clear sounds of the marimba.
In the end, this album is a beautiful homage, allowing us to discover the contribution of Akira Miyoshi to the marimba. A portrait admirably drawn by a great interpreter.