Few names in music carry as much weight as Yo-Yo Ma: cellist, international superstar, humanitarian and beloved human. With a 60-year career as a performer, he brought musical scores and sheet music to life. From age-old traditional tunes to brand new concertos, Yo-Yo Ma features on 120 albums. It’s a heartbreaking task to choose a favorite recording, but to celebrate Ma’s 66th birthday on October 7th, your friends at CPR Classical gave it a try.
Gershwin Prelude n ° 1 from “Trois Préludes”
Scott Clemens / Digital and musical assistant
“You can just say that Yo-Yo Ma and Kathryn Stott are great friends. The two show such musical camaraderie when they collaborate on the album ‘Songs from the Arc of Life’. One of my favorites is George Gershwin’s quick and jazzy exclamation. They transcribe his Prelude No. 1 on cello and piano for an enlightening piece with lots of rhythm and color for * only * a two-minute listen. “
Songs of comfort and hope
David Ginder / Morning Host
“Songs of Comfort and Hope by Yo-Yo, released during our hard times. It reminds me that Yo-Yo is a great cellist, a great friend and a great humanitarian who does all he can to help with his music and otherwise.
Schubert’s Trout Quintet and Arpeggione Sonata
Marilyn cooley/ Weekend host
“Schubert’s music is so close to my heart, especially his chamber music. And then there are the melodies; transcendent but so personal and intimate. The Arpeggione and the Trout Quintet have been favorites for as long as I can remember. Yo-Yo Ma is my idol, not only for his sincere playing, but for his expansion of music into a lifelong dedication to humanity. He’s the real deal, musically and as an activist for everyone. When he and his colleagues, especially Emanuel Ax, play these songs, for me it’s a resonance of beauty and kindness that I feel right down to my bones.
The flight of the Rimsky-Korsakov drone with Bobby McFerrin
Karla Walker / Noon Host
“I’ll never forget seeing them both perform on the ‘Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.’ They had a blast and Yo-Yo had that look of utter pleasure on his face – a look we’ve come to know through to his many collaborative projects. This recording comes from the CD ‘Hush’ which was Ma’s first real foray into a different territory; in the years that followed he brought us tangos from Argentina, music from the Silk Road and American Traditional Music with its Goat Rodeo gang. ‘Hush’ brought me so much joy in the early 90s when it came out and continues to make me smile.
Bach Cello Suite No.1
Jean Inaba / Evening host
“It’s like having to make a choice about Sophie!” Where do I start? If the going gets tough, I choose Bach. Yo-Yo alone… no orchestra… no piano… just Ma alone with her cello.
Ma has recorded the composer’s six suites for solo cello three times during his career. The last time was just a few years ago, in 2018. I love the way he brings out the soul of this very special music. Bach would have been delighted with what he heard. I like the sequel n ° 1.
Walton’s Cello Concerto
Jessie Jacobs / Weekend Host
“One of my first classical music CDs in high school was Yo Yo Ma’s Elgar / Walton Cello Concertos. The Walton is amazing, especially the second movement. I love Ma’s really sharp and hard emotional moments, which the Walton shows so well! Mixed with magnificent slow melodic tracks? * chef’s kiss. “
Shenandoah, arr. Caroline shaw
Monika Vischer / Program Director
“There are so many delicious arrangements on Yo-Yo’s recent Songs of Comfort & Hope, a healing balm during the pandemic. My favorite right now is another of her exquisite musical collaborations – an arrangement of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw, who unearths breathtaking new beauties in American folk song Shenandoah.
Hush little baby with Bobby McFerrin
Matt Weesner / Afternoon Host
“A fond memory from my school years: ‘Hush Little Baby’ with Bobby McFerrin. This track was on a Sony New Releases compilation tape that I sort of ended up with. Although I can’t remember any of the other music on the tape, I will never forget hearing THIS for the first time! What a great example of Yo-Yo Ma’s collaborative spirit, whatever the genre.
Six evolutions: Bach cello suites
Jeff Zumfelde / Music Director
“Ma’s third set of Bach Suites from 2018. Her first ensemble is rooted in me because this is the recording from which I learned these pieces. The third recording of the ensemble is my favorite due to the subtle expressive differences.
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