The following music review comes courtesy of friend and writer Marc S. Tucker, carried over from his newsletter VERITAS VAMPIRUS and is NOT of my doing, despite being featured on my blog. Please keep this fact firmly in mind for future reference.
MARIKA TAKEUCHI - Colors in the Diary
(no label cited)
Review written by Marc Tucker - 04/27/2016
Interestingly, pianist-composer-producer-arranger-copyist-educator (whew! that's a lot of hyphens!) Marika Takeuchi is synaesthesic, sees colors mentally when listening to music and literally hears musical notes when contemplating scenes of beauty. This trait can't help but imbue her work with a richness oft scamped in writers and players taken up with clustered chops, radically shifting velocities, convoluted compositions, and so forth. Much as I love those qualities, there's an entirely different experience contained in the measured approaches here, in the mindset of a spiritually-oriented existentialist rendering of tableaus sonically akin to well-considered still-lifes. In Colors in the Diary, though, the still-lifes refuse to remain placid, to sit as though wax fruit, but instead take on vivacities wedding Satie to Glass, opening up vistas, or embodying intimate cloisters of deeply considered thought and reflection.
The 12 songs here were all written and arranged/orchestrated by Takeuchi, but that 'orchestraton' attribution is actually a matter of chamber symphonics in spare or lush manifestations, the celebrated Eugene Friesen, he of Paul Winters' past esteemed Living Music imprint and marvelous old Consort, on cello and Si-Jing Huang on violin. Sometimes the pairing results in a stripped-down mellifluous airy trio setting with Takeuchi, other times in a simul-synched many-handed ensemble backing the pianist. Will Ackerman produced the CD (co-pro'ed with Marika and Andreas Bjork), so you know without asking that this is Windham Hill quality. Nothing Ackerman touches has ever been less than that, to my knowledge.
Painter Leonid Afremov contributed an eye-fetching semi-abstract night street-scene bursting with color and light, the sort of thing Thomas Kincade wished he could've produced ('n, boy, that Kincade was a piece of work, wasn't he?), highly suggestive of a number of songs in Diary. Glints and shards of Debussy, Saint-Saens, Faure, Rachmaninoff and others rise and pass as Marika, who's Berklee trained, dances her works about in dignified pastorality and decorously restrained ardor, recalling days past within the always-now. My favorite track? Probably Colorful Mind, a song ringing of Penguin Cafe Orchestra in a serious phase (hmmm, was PCO ever serious?), but, really, the entirety of Colors in the Diary is like sitting down with a book of cherished photographs, gliding through memories with a wistful smile, one's own history whispering seductively, entrancingly, half way between the sighs of Earth and the Paradise lurking just beneath.
RELATED LINK: Marika Takeuchi's Official Website