CAPPING TWO WEEKS of community residency, the performance by marimba virtuoso Nachiko Maekane at Proctor’s Theater was a fitting conclusion to her stay here – and, it is hoped, an indication of the kind of talent we can expect by the next two performers who will have a similar residency in the area under the Affiliate Artists program.
Tuesday night’s performance at Proctor’s was much more formal than what she had been doing – “informances,” they’re called, suggesting the mixture achieved by a combination of performance and discussion. Tuesday night, Ms. Maekane played a brief program of six pieces, most of which were written specifically for her instrument.
The marimba is a sort of percussion hybrid, placing the tuned wooden bars of a xylophone over the resonating columns of a set of vibes. It is played with one or two mallets in each hand. It does not naturally sustain a pitch, but a skilled performer, like Ms. Maekane, can bring forth an organ-like quality through clever hammering.
The pieces on the program, all but one by Japanese composers, explored various aspects of the instrument’s sonority. The first work, “Time for Marimba,” by Minoru Miki, began with an arpeggio study and went into a study of the dynamic contrasts obtainable, relying on rhythm and repetition over melody and harmony.
This was true throughout the program. The music lacked the harmonic tension of the more traditional Western voices, though this tendency is by no means confined to the East; the so-called “minimalist” composers are upholding such qualities. Wieniawski’s “Souvenir de Moscow,” originally written for violin, was in marked contrast to the other works, and the encore she gave us, “Granada,” proved that she is a veritable Art Tatum of the marimba.
– Albany Knickerbocker News, 9 February 1985