Simply Baroque

Yo-Yo Ma

Sony Classics, 1999

REVIEW BY: Tammy Childs


Yo-Yo Ma is a man with a fatuous sounding name, but is definitely not empty-headed in any way. He is a soloist cellist who has always been known for being diverse and for choosing music that is intellectually stimulating and provides pleasant sounds for the ear as well. He continually strives to grow personally and musically, and his desire is that his music will communicate with your imagination.

Beginning at the age of four, Yo-Yo Ma was taught the cello, giving his first recital at five years of age. He studied at Juilliard, and at 23 he won the Avery Fisher prize, given to only a few of the world's best musicians. He plays two instruments: a 1733 Montagnana cello and a 1712 Davidoff Stradivarius.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

This time he has chosen to share his talents in the style of Baroque. He brings old music to new listeners. Simply Baroque is divided into two sections, honoring two composers. The first is German Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), the second is Italian Luigi Boccherini (1743-1805). Both fashioned their writings to coincide with exterior factors taking place in the world at that time. Artistic expression was flourishing in architecture, art, fashion and of course, music.

Yo-Yo Ma offers one of Bach's better known pieces, "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring," a piece that is frequently heard in classical circles. It is methodic and beautiful. "Dein Blut, der edle Saft" is a very short melody, not even one minute long. Society at that time, dictated that music be dramatic, full of movement. And although it is indeed somewhat solemn and heavy, I found it to be one of my favorites.

My choice for Boccherini is, by far, "Allego Con Spirito." As the name suggests, this number was very spirited, characterized by quick, lively musical notes. Boccherini was known for being a bit of a show-off, but he was a virtuoso cellist, and reconized a chance to create melodies that were individualistic and yet contemporary. He strived to give his music life and form, and this demonstrates his passion. I preferred Bach's compositions to Boccherini's, but enjoyed them both.

Ma is an animated cellist. He loves his work and he knows that often classical music is considered to be humdrum and monotonous. He has proven, with this album, that it doesn't have to be that way. For those who love classical music, you will revel in this selection. Baroque composer Johann Joseph Fux wrote: "A composition meets the demands of good taste if it is well constructed.........combining brilliant ideas with perfect workmanship." Yo-Yo Ma has combined beautifully written music with an instrument of grandeur. His works by cello are insightful and entertaining.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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