Essential Yo-Yo Ma

The Essential Yo-Yo Ma

by Yo-Yo Ma
As if being the world's greatest living cellist weren't enough, Yo-Yo Ma is also one of the mere handful of genuine celebrities the classical music world has produced. In a recording career approaching three decades, he's put his stamp on nearly every nook and cranny of the standard cello repertoire while allowing his curiosity to lead him


As if being the world's greatest living cellist weren't enough, Yo-Yo Ma is also one of the mere handful of genuine celebrities the classical music world has produced. In a recording career approaching three decades, he's put his stamp on nearly every nook and cranny of the standard cello repertoire while allowing his curiosity to lead him into a virtual world tour of crossover projects, too, each more successful than the last. With such a hit parade to choose from, it must have been daunting to select this program of his "essentials," but the results do justice to both the diversity and the consistent excellence of his work. It helps that the two discs divide neatly into a classical résumé and a crossover one. The former includes meaty excerpts from Bach, Shostakovich, Brahms, and Dvorák, as well as lighter encores such as Saint-Saëns' The Swan and Rachmaninoff's Vocalise, to name a few that show off the unsurpassed beauty of Ma's playing. The second disc, which is programmed even better for straight-through listening, draws from popular albums including the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon soundtrack, Appalachian Journey, Soul of the Tango, Obrigado Brazil, and pieces by film composers John Williams and Ennio Morricone, as well as the most recent installment of the cellist's ambitious Silk Road project. It looks like a grab-bag assortment on paper, but Ma's impeccable taste and artistry tie it all together and leave you wondering where his insatiable musical appetites will lead him -- and his listeners -- next.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Richie Unterberger
The Essential Yo-Yo Ma seems to be a presentation of the recordings in which the esteemed cellist has participated that might have the widest appeal to the general market. There's nothing wrong with that. But it isn't too easy to select a "best-of" for an artist such as this, grounded in classical music but adding his talents to forms of popular and world music as well. So this two-disc, 35-track set might not be pure enough for the classical devotee, nor have enough accessible non-classical pieces for the popular music-oriented listener. What it does offer, indisputably, is a lot of the music recorded by the musician between 1978 and 2004, and a lot of different kinds of pieces. Disc one is the more classical-based of the pair, with works by Bach, Vivaldi, Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich, Brahms, and Dvorák (as well as George Gershwin's "Prelude No. 1"). Yo-Yo Ma's cello is placed in diverse contexts here, within orchestras at times of course, but also in settings in which he's accompanied only by a pianist or a few musicians (including, on Rachmaninov's "Vocalise," singer Bobby McFerrin). On disc two are tracks that put the cellist's talents into various forms of Latin music (as an accompanist to Antonio Carlos Jobim, Heitor Villa-Lobos, and Astor Piazzolla), folk (on numbers composed by Mark O'Connor and "Simple Gift," with Alison Krauss as vocalist), traditional Chinese sounds ("Mido Mountain"), soundtracks (extracts from Ennio Morricone's score to The Mission), and even Cole Porter's "Anything Goes" (with jazz great Stéphane Grappelli on violin). The cello playing is stellar throughout and the varying ensembles very well recorded. However, more specialized listeners might prefer individual works on which the artist has performed, rather than an eclectic stylistic assortment such as this.

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Disc 1

  1. Prélude
  2. II. Largo
  3. Jesus, bleibet meine Freude
  4. Schafe können sicher weiden
  5. Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, chorale prelude for organ (Schübler Ch
  6. The Swan (from "Carnival of the Animals"), original (for 2 pianos & ensembl
  7. Havanaise, in E major for violin & piano (or orchestra), Op. 83
  8. Méditation, for violin & orchestra (or other arrangement) (from opera "
  9. Liebesfreud (Love's Joy), for violin & piano
  10. Prelude No. 1. Allegro ben ritmato e deciso
  11. Vocalise, instrumental arrangement, Op. 34/14
  12. IV. Allegro
  13. Andante cantabile, for cello and string orchestra in D major (arr. of 2
  14. IV. Rondo alla Zingarese. Presto
  15. III. Finale. Allegro moderato

Disc 2

  1. Cristal
  2. A lenda do caboclo, for piano, A. 166
  3. Chega de Saudade
  4. Wapango, for woodwind quintet
  5. Libertango, tango
  6. Appalachia Waltz, version for solo cello
  7. Butterfly's Day Out
  8. 1B, for violin, cello & double bass
  9. Pickin'
  10. Simple Gifts
  11. Gabriel's Oboe
  12. The Falls
  13. The Eternal Vow
  14. The Cellist of Sarajevo, a lament in rondo form for cello, Op. 12
  15. Chi passa per 'sta strada, for voices, lutes & violin
  16. Mido Mountain
  17. Mohini (Enchantment)
  18. Baroque in Rhythm
  19. Anything Goes, song (from "Anything Goes")
  20. I Could Have Danced All Night, song (from "My Fair Lady")

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Yo-Yo Ma   Primary Artist,Cello
Alison Krauss   Vocals
Edgar Meyer   Bass,Double Bass
Claude Bolling   Piano
Paquito D'Rivera   Clarinet
Stéphane Grappelli   Violin
Roger Kellaway   Piano
Bobby McFerrin   Vocals
Daniel Humair   Drums
New York Philharmonic   Performing Ensemble
Philippe Entremont   Piano
Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra   Performing Ensemble
Odair Assad   Guitar
Sergio Assad   Guitar
Cyro Baptista   Percussion
Jon Burr   Bass,Double Bass
Hector Console   Bass,Double Bass
Jean-Luc Dayan   Drums
Marc Fosset   Guitar
Horacio Malvicino   Guitar
Néstor Marconi   Bandoneon
Ennio Morricone   Conductor
Nilson Matta   Bass,Double Bass
Marc Michel   Bass,Double Bass
Mark O'Connor   Mandolin,Violin
Isaac Stern   Violin
César Camargo Mariano   Piano
Antonio Agri   Violin
Kurt Masur   Conductor
Emanuel Ax   Piano
Tan Dun   Conductor
Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra   Performing Ensemble
Roma Sinfonietta   Performing Ensemble
Gilda Buttà   Piano
Rosa Passos   Guitar,Vocals
David Cossin   Drums
Leonardo D. Marconi   Piano
Kathryn Stott   Piano
Stephen Prutsman   Piano
Ton Koopman   Organ,Conductor,Harpsichord
Lorin Maazel   Conductor
Silk Road Ensemble   Ensemble
Jaime Laredo   Viola
Shanghai Symphony Orchestra   Performing Ensemble
Shanghai Percussion Ensemble   Ensemble,Percussion Ensemble
Chen Xieyang   Conductor
Jeffrey Kahane   Piano
Leonardo Marconi   Piano
Shanghai National Orchestra   Performing Ensemble
Patricia Zander   Piano
Gaby Casadesus   Piano
Claude Bolling Ensemble   Ensemble
Alimjan   Rawap
Kasim   Drums

Technical Credits

Jascha Heifetz   Arranger
Edgar Meyer   Arranger,Producer
Claude Bolling   Producer
Roger Kellaway   Arranger
Bobby McFerrin   Producer
John Williams [composer]   Producer
Yo-Yo Ma   Arranger
Ettore Stratta   Producer
Sergio Assad   Arranger
Jorge Calandrelli   Arranger,Producer
Oscar Castro-Neves   Producer
Ennio Morricone   Composer,Producer
Mark O'Connor   Composer,Producer
Georges Kadar   Producer
Tan Dun   Producer
James Mallinson   Producer
Stephen Prutsman   Arranger
Richard Einhorn   Producer
Ton Koopman   Arranger,Instrumentation
Gustavo Tavares   Arranger
Ljova   Arranger
Silk Road Ensemble   Arranger
Li Cang Sang   Arranger
Tini Mathot   Producer
Wu Tong   Arranger
Steven Epstein   Producer,Reissue Producer
Grace Kristopher Row   Producer

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