Yo-Yo Ma Plays the Music of John Williams

Yo-Yo Ma Plays the Music of John Williams

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by Yo-Yo Ma
     
 

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For an instrument with such rich expressive powers, the cello has long suffered from a shortage of great concertos. Leave it to John Williams, the composer best known for his popular, emotionally charged scores to Star Wars, ET, and many other blockbuster movies, to ride to the rescue with a new Cello Concerto -- an intense,See more details below

Overview

For an instrument with such rich expressive powers, the cello has long suffered from a shortage of great concertos. Leave it to John Williams, the composer best known for his popular, emotionally charged scores to Star Wars, ET, and many other blockbuster movies, to ride to the rescue with a new Cello Concerto -- an intense, expressive, and rhythmically vital offering tailor-made for Yo-Yo Ma's dexterous touch. Like the composer's Violin Concerto, this one is imbued with impressionistic textures and colors, but there's also a hard-driving, modern edge. Call it 21st-century Ravel. Williams wrote the concerto with Ma in mind, and it's a test of even Ma's formidable technique. It also boasts powerful orchestral writing, especially for the percussion and brass. Three other premieres are included on the album as well. The Elegy for Cello and Orchestra is a lyrical and atmospheric tone poem, with shades of Fauré at every turn of phrase. The expressionistic Three Pieces for Solo Cello, though, seem more akin to Benjamin Britten's solo cello suites in their abstract, concentrated intensity. Heartwood is another tender and sensitive reverie. It gradually builds in strength but ends as it began, with a whisper of tranquil serenity. Ma's virtuosity is dazzling, and his engagement with the music is typically deep. He makes clear that Williams's music isn't just for the movies; indeed, with his new concerto, Williams has done the cello a great service.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Neil Shurley
Even when not composing music for film, John Williams tends to tie his music to fairly concrete images, as this collection of cello works attests. The inspiration for "Heartwood," for example, came from a book containing photographs of trees. His "Three Pieces for Solo Cello" were attempts to reflect the African-American experience. In the liner notes of this CD, Williams describes the cello as groaning under the crack of the work-gang whip for "Rosewood," dancing exuberantly in "Pickin'," and singing a lullaby in "The Long Road North." Even "Concerto for Cello and Orchestra," a piece that would seem to be the most traditionally "classical" in its approach, is described as containing a "hero's role" for the cello, allowing the instrument "to address the audience in the manner of a clear and direct soliloquy." This visual approach to composition helps ground even the most "modernist" passages, allowing Williams' music to remain accessible to the more casual listener while still yielding enough riches to satisfy a more demanding audience. This collection boasts some of Williams' most compelling and heartfelt writing, boosted by typically expressive performances by Yo-Yo Ma. The warmth of Ma's cello complements Williams' emotional style, particularly in the reflective "Heartwood" and moving "Elegy." Williams proves here that more than just his theme from Star Wars deserves long life in the concert hall repertory.
Gramophone - Edward Seckerson
The Cello Concerto...was written expressely for Ma. And it shows. There's an energy in the writing which has everything to do with Ma's many-faceted personality. It's as if Williams wanted to catch it all... The four very distinctive movements run together as if to pause would be to break the spell, to lose the impetus. Ma -- as cellist, as person -- is always pro-active. Williams has caught that.

Product Details

Release Date:
02/19/2002
Label:
Sony
UPC:
0696998967021
catalogNumber:
89670
Rank:
61774

Tracks

  1. Concerto for cello & orchestra  - John Williams [composer]  - John Williams [composer]  - John Williams [composer]  - Yo-Yo Ma  - Roxanne Slimak  -  Angeles Recording Arts Orchestra
  2. Elegy for cello & orchestra  - John Williams [composer]  - John Williams [composer]  - John Williams [composer]  - Yo-Yo Ma  - Roxanne Slimak  -  Angeles Recording Arts Orchestra
  3. Pieces (3) for solo cello  - John Williams [composer]  - John Williams [composer]  - John Williams [composer]  - Yo-Yo Ma  - Roxanne Slimak  -  Angeles Recording Arts Orchestra
  4. Heartwood, for cello & orchestra  - John Williams [composer]  - John Williams [composer]  - John Williams [composer]  - Yo-Yo Ma  - Roxanne Slimak  -  Angeles Recording Arts Orchestra

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Yo-Yo Ma   Primary Artist

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