|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.