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Chamber Music - Released August 17, 2018 | Sony Classical

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Editor's Choice
What do you mean, “Six evolutions”? It’s an intriguing title, almost esoteric… The cellist Yo-Yo Ma, who needs no introduction after a worldwide career of some fifty years, pens here his third (and ultimate, according to him) recording of Bach’s Solo Cello Suites. The first, while he was in his twenties, gave rise to enthusiasm, the second—in his forties—gave rise to emotion, so what will this final vision give rise to, now that he is in his late sixties? Serenity and joy, probably, and the completion of a triple discographic evolution. That being said, we still cannot explain the “Six evolutions”, and you will have to dive into a small corner of the accompanying booklet to find an indication, giving little more information, it is true, since it comes with no clarification: 1) Nature is at play, 2) Journey toward the light, 3) Celebration, 4) Construction/Development, 5) The struggle for hope, and 6) Epiphany. Well… Whatever it be, and despite what he said—and the amazing quality of this interpretation—let’s meet in 2038 to find out if he doesn’t decide to give a new interpretation in his eighties! © SM/Qobuz
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Trios - Released September 15, 2017 | Sony Classical

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or / Arte
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Classical - Released September 18, 2015 | Masterworks

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Classical - Released July 20, 2010 | Sony Classical

Sure to remain a top seller on the classical charts for some time to come, Yo-Yo Ma Plays Ennio Morricone is a new installment in the great cellist's long series of crossover albums. It diverges from most of the others, however, in its collaborative aspect: the music's original creator, Morricone, had as much to do with this album as did Ma and his creative team. Morricone's career in film music began during the era of the spaghetti Western in the 1960s and has flourished ever since, on both sides of the Atlantic. Morricone and Ma met at the 2001 Academy Awards, where Ma was performing and Morricone was nominated for his score to Giuseppe Tornatore's Malèna. They hatched the idea for this album together, and all the adaptations of Morricone's music are his own. He also conducts the Roma Sinfonietta Orchestra. Overall, the results are gorgeous. Morricone opens and closes the album with pairs of excerpts from two individual films, The Mission and the rarely seen The Lady Caliph. In between are four suites of excerpts, three of them associated with Morricone's favorite directorial collaborators (Sergio Leone, Brian de Palma, and Tornatore). These suites, comprising varied but closely related stretches of music, really allow Ma to go to town. He has rarely achieved a more lushly beautiful tone or a more direct emotional appeal. Morricone deftly adapts his music for the cello-and-orchestra combination. At different times, Ma's cello plays the role of another solo instrument (the pan pipes in the Mission score, for instance), sings the wordless vocal lines that populate many of Morricone's scores, or plays lines of orchestral counterpoint that are elaborated into some pretty fancy fingerwork. The only complaints pertain to the selection of music, and it's debatable whether there's really anything to complain about. Represented here are Morricone's big, romantic scores, mostly of fairly recent vintage. Cinema Paradiso, two cues from which are included, is an example casual filmgoers may be acquainted with. The edgier, more experimental scores Morricone wrote for Western and suspense films are ignored, and it was these that endeared the composer to scenesters like John Zorn, who recorded a memorable deconstruction of The Big Gundown some years ago. On the few tracks where electronic elements are introduced, they aren't well integrated into the general concept. As a whole, though, the album hangs together wonderfully, and the music can stand up to anything in the current neo-Romantic rage. Play the "Cockeye's Song" cue from Once Upon a Time in America for classical purists unfamiliar with Morricone, and ask them to guess the composer. Watch them squirm. And then introduce one of the great composers of our time, presented by one of our foremost interpreters. © TiVo
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Classical - Released June 19, 2020 | Sony Classical

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Classical - Released April 7, 2017 | Nonesuch

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Classical - Released July 20, 2010 | Sony Classical

Yo-Yo Ma recorded J.S. Bach's Six Unaccompanied Cello Suites on two occasions, first for release on LP in 1983, then again in 1997 on CD. It is the 1983 recording that is presented here, and the original digital recordings have been mastered to enhance the cello's sound. Ma's readings of Bach are fairly liberal in rhythm and phrasing and are decidedly more intuitive than analytical, with plenty of rubato and elongation of lines to suggest something like a free Romantic interpretation, far from any Baroque period re-creation. For some listeners who are fans of historically informed or authentic performances of Bach, this may be a stumbling block; but for most, Ma's expressive playing will seem satisfactory and quite enjoyable, if not exactly revelatory. There is a pensive quality to these performances that will strike some as introspective and probing, while others may find them a bit self-indulgent and studied; either way, Ma falls short of ecstatic communion with the music and delivers a technically polished and intelligent performance that has grace and elegance, if not the deepest emotions or visionary heights. Competing with the magnificent recordings by Pablo Casals, Pierre Fournier, and Mstislav Rostropovich, this set can't be regarded as the last word in Bach's cello suites; however, it has held its own for many listeners over the years, and it clearly deserves its place in the catalog. © TiVo
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Film Soundtracks - Released November 22, 2005 | Sony Classical

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Classical - Released July 16, 2010 | Sony Classical

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Classical - Released October 24, 2011 | Sony Classical

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Classical - Released June 21, 2015 | Sony Classical

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Classical - Released July 20, 2010 | Sony Classical

There are people who buy everything Yo-Yo Ma releases, and that's a good thing: his incessant musical curiosity and his ability to carry his audience with him constitute a true bright spot in today's classical music scene. Fans of the two Simply Baroque discs Ma recorded with Ton Koopman and the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra will find much to like in Vivaldi's Cello, featuring the same musicians and offering several Vivaldi cello concertos plus Vivaldi works arranged for cello and ensemble by Koopman. Ma once again nicely adapts his warm, ebullient style to the quiet, gut-strung 1712 Stradivarius instrument (Jerry Seinfeld might call it a "low talker") he played on the earlier albums, and much of the music is both scintillating and unfamiliar. The only two chestnuts included are the Largo movement of the "Winter" Four Seasons concerto and a section of the Gloria, RV 589; the concertos rage and roil, and the disc ends effectively and prayerfully with a pair of slow opera arias. Nevertheless, Vivaldi's Cello leaves something to be desired as a Baroque disc. The problems lie not with Ma but with Koopman and the disc's engineers. Koopman's textures, striving for muscularity, verge on being too busy, and his continuo playing sometimes competes with Ma's cello rather than supporting it. Koopman claims that his arrangements have done nothing that wouldn't have been done in Vivaldi's time, and when it comes to reworking opera arias he's right -- but does any eighteenth century instruction manual contain outrageous harpsichord moves like the bizarre unpitched tremolo heard in a striking Mannheim Rocket-like figure 40 seconds into the very first track? And Koopman's harpsichord is miked so loud that it tends to drown Ma out. In all, Vivaldi's Cello is a cluttered canvas, even if one with sections of great beauty. © TiVo
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Classical - Released April 6, 2004 | Sony Classical

Unlike the recent Classic Yo-Yo, really a single-disc sampler of the recorded work of our true superstar cellist, The Essential Yo-Yo Ma purports to be something more -- the Yo-Yo Ma album to own if you're going to own just one. Where Classic Yo-Yo more or less alternated track by track between Ma's straight classical and crossover music, The Essential Yo-Yo Ma devotes one of its two discs to the classics and the other to a generous sampling of music Ma has explored from around the popular sphere and around the world, including selections from his Silk Road Project and from his disc devoted to the music of Ennio Morricone. There's a lot to be said for this approach; Ma has really maintained parallel classical and crossover careers, and when it comes to actualy mixing things up on the concert stage, others have been bolder than he. The crossover second disc is nicely sequenced and remastered, concluding with a previously unreleased arrangement of "I Could Have Danced All Night" as a bonus track. It's a very reasonable greatest-hits group. The first disc is less successful as a representation of Ma's abilities in traditional repertoire. No complete multi-movement works are included, and most of the performances included are of the encore type. The disc moves more or less chronologically, beginning with a group of Bach and Vivaldi melodies (though Ma's involvement with Vivaldi is underrepresented by the single Four Seasons movement included) and proceeding to Romantic and late Romantic works. Many of these pieces (Gershwin's Prelude No. 1, Rachmaninov's Vocalise, Massenet's Méditation) are arrangements, and a few could have been sacrificed to make room for the consistent warmth that Ma brings to, say, Dvorák's cello concerto. Still, there's nothing here that makes this set anything less than a good introduction to a great musician, one who connects with audiences in a way that was second nature to the famed virtuosi of the past. © TiVo
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Classical - Released May 3, 2011 | Sony Classical

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Classical - Released August 19, 2002 | Sony Classical

This release covers half (Suites No. 1, No. 5, and No. 6) of Yo-Yo Ma's first recording of the Bach Cello Suites made in 1983. At the time, he was still a newer talent to audiences, but had already impressed teachers and listeners with his musicality and technical skills. The Bach suites were pieces he had been learning all his life and were one of the things that helped him make his mark as a student at Harvard. Ma's reading of the suites is more stylized than Bach purists might like, but at the same time, it is entirely musical and enjoyable. His choices of where and when to use rubato and how much are completely subjective, but done for the sake of creating depth and shape in the music in a way that speaks to him and the listener. The Allemande and Courante of the Suite No. 5 are told like stories, with moments of gravity, excitement, and reflection. There are also moments of carefree dancing, particularly in the Courante and Gigue of Suite No. 1, and in the Gavotte and Gigue of No. 6, where he uses his bow to play into the strings, giving the music a slightly rustic character. Ma's musical sense comes through clearly in this recording of the suites, which demonstrates why his abilities garnered much-deserved attention when it was originally released. © TiVo
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Classical - Released April 23, 2013 | Sony Classical

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Classical - Released April 7, 2017 | Nonesuch

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Classical - Released May 12, 2017 | Masterworks

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Classical - Released March 8, 2019 | Sony Classical

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The star power of Finnish conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen can be seen not only in the success of his solo works, three of which are concertos, but also in the fact that this 2017 Cello Concerto gets a major-label release all by itself even though it's just slightly over 35 minutes long. It's a lovely work that calls for virtuoso-level technical intensity from the soloist (effortlessly provided here by Yo-Yo Ma) without setting up an athletic structure of soloist display and tutti foundation as in a traditional concerto. Sample the first movement, where the solo cello emerges slowly, weaves in and out of the music, and departs equally gradually. "I imagined the solo cello line as a trajectory of a moving object in space," Salonen writes in an elegant booklet note, "being followed and emulated by other lines/instruments/moving objects." This structure bears little resemblance to traditional concerto form, although it may well evoke Debussy or Dutilleux. In the work's three-movement form, however, the work is traditional, and one of its appealing features is the fact that it gives Ma plenty to do, including some treacherous high notes, without shining the spotlight on him in the usual way. Salonen's concerto was co-commissioned by several orchestras and was premiered by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under his baton. But surely the strongest performance has come from the Los Angeles Philharmonic, with the silken string section Salonen helped build over 17 years as conductor. The live sound is exceptional, with nary a peep from the audience, and an excellent capture of the Walt Disney Hall's clean acoustic from Sony. Highly recommended. © TiVo