A word of warning: the notes to this CD may detract from the lovely music it contains. German ensemble Blue Chamber Quartet commissioned journalist Cathrin Kahlweit to write a brief essay for each of the work's 20 movements, first-person vignettes describing the lives of children in 20 countries that seemingly have no discernable relationship to Corea's gentle, sophisticated miniatures.
Corea wrote this suite of pieces for piano in the 1970s and '80s, and it has been recorded both in the original version and in various arrangements numerous times. The pieces are delightful -- playful, lively, graceful, and inventive -- and there is nothing about them that marks them as entertainment only for children. This is music that can be savored by anyone with a taste for directly communicative new music. The music works beautifully in this arrangement by group member Thomas Schindl, scored for piano, harp, vibraphone, and double bass, along with a part for guest percussionist Sven von Samson. The colorful and unusual instrumentation creates an even broader expressive palette than the piano version, and the evocative percussion atmospherics that surround some of the pieces add about 10 minutes to the total duration of the suite. The playing is delicate and spirited throughout, and the sound quality of the SACD is balanced and detailed.