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Review, Analysis and Recordings Containing
Kon Tiki
Kon Tiki Monophonic
Also called, Supay Taki during her 1961 tour of the Soviet Union.  (trad. arr. Moisés Vivanco - 3:02)
Recorded in 1952

Review and Analysis of Kon Tiki by Nicholas E. Limansky
From Yma Sumac - The Art Behind the Legend
used with permission - all rights reserved, © Nicholas E. Limansky
Read more on the Legacy of the Diva Web site!
"Tortured by jealousy, an Incan maiden turns to nature and joins the birds in song, but her sorrow soon returns."  (Program notes for the song "Jealousy" from program of concert at University of Minnesota, 11/4/54)

No song called "Kon Tiki" appeared on Yma's concerts.  There was, however, an orchestral suite with that name (supposedly written by Moisés) that was often programed during early sections of concerts.  For the 1960s concert tour of Russia this song was retitled "Supay Taki" (Elect CD).  In private correspondence, however, Moisés stated "Supay Taki is a symphonic piece."

The program notes for a song called "Jealousy," (see above) often programmed on concerts but never recorded, fit the mood and musical sections of "Kon Tiki" like a glove.  Moisés wrote emphatically, however, "Jealousy and Kon Tiki are different musical works...." (ibid)

A short, but fascinating song, (just over 3 minutes) "Kon Tiki" opens with rippling, water-like accompaniment by strings and harp.  The main theme, a sad, simple melody is beautifully articulated by Yma in a haunting manner, full of lyrical pathos, tonal shadings and accents.  As is so often the case with Sumacian music, Yma takes a slight composition and inbues it with myriad accents and colorations, thus making it interesting.  Sometimes Yma's meticulous attention to coloristic detail is too much for her music to support and the effect backfires.  This song, however, is a different matter.  Although the accompaniment is typical, lush, 1950s exotica, Yma's singing has all the virtues of classic operatic singing, including well supported, smooth, legato and artistically tapered phrases.

The main interest in this song is the central portion which includes a duet for voice and flute.  This is a coloratura extraganza of great difficulty.  In this recorded version, however, Yma double-tracks herself, taking on the part of the flute as well.  Yma was famous for her on-stage contests with flute.  During concerts, she and Hernán [Braña] would crowd together at the microphone and provide voice-flute duets that, according to reports, were staggering.  Although reviews from the early 1950s often speak of these "incredible" exhibitions, they never name the song.  This seems to be the only piece in her repertoire that fits those descriptions.

After the short, plaintive theme is sung, flutes enter to signal a change of mood and tempo.  Yma imitates the phrase with pin-prick staccati that take her to G above high C.  What follows is a section of brilliant pryotechnical singing as Yma duets herself in volleys of staccati.  Her simultaneous use of staccato and legato during the overdubbing creates some fascinating vocal textures.  Darting back and forth in the area of high C, D, and E, Yma provides bird-like sounds, rapid-fire delivery and a clarity of coloratura that is remarkable.  At the conclusion of this section the main theme again returns but in a raised key, strongly projected by Yma.  Wistful and nostalgic, Yma finishes with a perfectly floated high B that is softened to a thread of sound.  One of her best efforts on disk.

Kon Tiki  is included on the following releases
catalog no: T-299
Reissue of second album, first 12 inch LP pressing 1955 United States
catalog no: SM-299
Probably a '60s or '70s reissue of Yma Sumac's second album recorded in 1952.  Because of the extra space this format had, additional tracks from the same recording session were added.  The original 78 rpm set had only eight tracks. 1965 United States
catalog no: ENC 10489
Reissue of Yma Sumac's second album, released originally as a 78 rpm set recorded in 1952, this is a later 12" LP pressing.  Due to the extended play time on this format, additional tracks from the same session were used to fill it. 1965 Australia
catalog no: T-299
Reissue of second album, later 12 inch LP pressing 1972 United States
catalog no: UV099
This Italian release was made on "audiophile" 180 gram vinyl. 2004 Italy
Vinyl releases seem to be the trend now as this recent double LP indicates. This time it is a reissue from a compilation CD rather than being a reissue of an original vinyl disk. 2005 United Kingdom
catalog no: SOL 610
This compilation has fifteen tracks including a live track by Yma Sumac recorded in Bucharest, Romania and two instumentals by Les Baxter from his 1951 Ritual of the Savage album. It also features an interesting revision of the Inca Taqui cover art similar to what was used on a painted version of th . . . 2003 France
catalog no: CDP-7-91 250-2
Reissue of second album, first Compact Disc reissue.  These early CD releases had much sharper, clearer cover art than the later Right Stuff reissues. 1989 United States
catalog no: 0777-7-91 250-2-9
Reissue of second album, second CD reissue 1996 United States
catalog no: INTROCD2086
Another compilation of early '50s material by Yma Sumac. 2006 United Kingdom
catalog no: CD 31507
Another compilation featuring selections from Yma Sumac's first four Capitol Records albums. This release is part of the Entertainers of the World series. Although the country origin is not stated anywhere on the packaging inside or out, the publisher is located in Ireland. This release does not hav . . . 2009 Ireland
catalog no: TOCP 50 037
CD compilation from Japan features a nice cross section of Yma Sumac's '50s material.  Now out of print, it still shows up once in a while. 1996 Japan
catalog no: CREVO 34 CD
Compilation with previously-unreleased material.  This is the original 1995 issue but a more recent version exists with different tracks. 1995 United Kingdom
catalog no: CREVO 34 CD
Reissue of compilation with previously-unreleased material. This reissue contains a slightly different track selection than the original 2001 United Kingdom
catalog no: 23351
76 Hits and Rarities from the goddess of Exotica. More details and track for this September 2012 collection coming soon. 2012 United Kingdom
catalog no: GSS 5482
This 3-CD set advertised as being from Holland but package and disk printing indicate it was made in Portugal. Released in March 2008 and contains 47 tracks, this boxed set contains three standard jewel cases all with the same cover art and no booklet or notes. The box cover is shown. 2008 Portugal
catalog no: 118734
Anthologie 1950-1959 Compact Disc set of Yma Sumac's containing all of Yma Sumac's 1950's Capitol Records original release catalog. Probably a bootleg as no EMI/Capital Records licensing information could be found. These tracks are included on legitimate releases of all the original albums. 2013 France
catalog no: BLUE102CD
Double CD collection features remastered tracks from the 1943 Argentina Session along with those from the Capitol Records years. 2005 United Kingdom
Yet another compilation CD with the title of Queen of Exotica making three with that title. This one, which is a 2-CD set, combines four of Yma Sumac's '50s albums. 2005 United Kingdom
catalog no: 4 M-299
Yma Sumac's second album is sung in quasi-classical style.  This is the first cassette reissue.  The original 78 rpm set had eight tracks while 12" LP and later reissues generally had twelve as does this cassette.  The additional tracks were from the same session. 1987 United States
catalog no: 8 M 299
Reissue of second album 1972 United States
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