- SONY BMG MUSIC
- Sony Music Entertainment***
A ROMANTIC JOURNEY FOR CELLO reflect's an extraordinary range of collaborators and includes so many of the most important musical relationships of Yo-Yo's life. The works selected here have never been available on one single compilation. The album represents the entire span of Yo-Yo's career, beginning with his first recording for the label and culminating with three new tracks recorded this fall especially for the collection.That Yo-Yo Ma is a world-class cellist, there can be no doubt. A few bars of the theme of Kabalevsky's beautiful"Largo" from Concerto No. 1 In G Minor is all the evidence necessary to illustrate the point. If this were Yo-Yo Ma's only accomplishment in life, it would place him in rare company. His latest CD, Appassionato illuminates the larger and more meaningful impact that he's had on his world. While a collection like this could be a mere"greatest hits" package, in the case of an artist like Yo-Yo Ma, it means much more. The liner notes compare Ma's impact as a personification of great and meaningful music to that of Bernstein. The claim is well supported by nearly thirty years of beautiful and diverse music represented here. Yo-Yo Ma, a great cellist, is clearly much more than that. New to this collection is a touching duo with pianist Octavio Brunetti by the late Astor Piazzolla. The simple idea of successfully offering a"popular" recording that includes nine minutes of poetic cello/piano music would be no mean feat. Ma's beautiful upper register playing is so vocal, and so artfully executed, that it transcends genre. This disc features modern lyrical works by"serious" composers, and great film writers. George Gershwin, who fits both categories, is represented by his lyrical"Second Prelude." The music of Ennio Morricone, composer of the Sergio Leone westerns among others, is coming to the forefront of American public attention of late. The Sunday New York Times recently featured the composer in the Arts section. Morricone produces and conducts"Nostalgia" from Cinema Paradiso here. American hero John Williams (composer of countless heroic American film themes) joins the soloist on his"Going to School" from Memoirs Of A Geisha to open Appassionato. Ma's brilliant virtuosic technique is in as much evidence as his romantic lyricism. Yo-Yo Ma is also well known, and well respected, for his endeavors in the folk music and"world" music genres. On Appassionato he plays the traditional"Yanzi (Swallow Song)" originally heard on the Silk Road Project in a new version. Shakuhachi master, Kojiro Umezaki is featured on this track. The timeless quality of the music, which is literally played"in the breath," is evident from the first phrase. Yo-Yo Ma is a rhythmically deft performer, but he has an uncanny adaptability with which he can communicate beyond national boundaries. He is equally at home with Edgar Meyer's distinctly American compositions, Finnish folk songs and the music of the classical Western composers. Not inconsequentially, the classical composers are well represented here as well. Saint-Saens"Swan" and Franck's famous A minor"Sonata" (written for violin and piano) serve as"light" and ever popular classical offerings. The"Andante" from the Brahms Double Concerto, with Isaac Stern and Claudio Abbado conducting the Chicago Symphony is wonderful. Another rare treat is Ma's work on Baroque cello on"Winter" from Vivaldi's The Four Seasons. Whether offered as an autobiographical sketch, a sampler, or a"best of," Appassionato is a collection of beautiful music, beautifully played, by one of the most important and versatile instrumentalists of our time.
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