Marimba Quartet # 1 ~ Saṃsāra ~
"Marimba Quartet # 1 ~ Saṃsāra ~"
composed by Tetsuya Takeno (2017)
Performed by Struck Percussion
Adam Rappel, David Birrow, Bojan Hoover, Matt Silverberg
Recorded at the University of Minnesota Twin-Cities, 2018
Audio recording and mixing camera by Michael Duffy
Audio Mixing & Mastering by Tetsuya Takeno and Michael Duffy
Video Edited by Tetsuya Takeno
Percussive Notes, Vol. 57, No. 3, July 2019, p.59
“Samsara” utilizes the dark resonance of the low end of the marimba in a wonderfully simple way. As the score states, it “features a steady and simple catchy pattern that departs from that symmetry, gradually transforming into complex polyrhythmic ensembles. It ends dramatically, frantically reprising materials from previous sections...because at least one part always keeps a repetitive rhythmic pattern in common time, the music is always polyrhythmic. Each part may appear simple, while ensemble coordination is always challenging.” Takeno certainly accomplishes this goal; the parts are two-mallet and not terribly challenging for a competent player, but they fit together like a puzzle, and if one part is off the whole thing won’t come together.
There is a clear jazz influence in “Samsara,” which lends itself well to the marimba quartet ensemble. There are almost always long rolled notes happening in at least one of the parts, which fill in the space nicely between the crisp articulation of the other parts. The technique needed for this piece is standard traditional two-mallet playing, with the exception of some notated ghost notes, which emphasize the syncopation of the theme.
The fact that this marimba quartet can be played on just two marimbas, and that even then it only needs one 5-octave instrument, greatly increases the accessibility of this piece for percussion programs and ensembles that do not have a large mallet instrument inventory. While “Samsara” does not reinvent the wheel of marimba quartets, it is a lovely and well thought out piece that would be a nice addition to any percussion ensemble concert.
—Marilyn K. Clark Silva