Essential Yo-Yo Ma

Essential Yo-Yo Ma

Yo-Yo Ma enjoyed so much well-deserved success early on that by his mid-30s he was able to start exploring in earnest music outside the European Classical canon. His Essential collection is helpfully divided into a classical first half (or side one) and a crossover part (or side two). Familiar favorites from Bach (“Suite No. 1 in G Major for Solo Cello,” “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring”) and Vivaldi (the Largo movement from his Concerto in F minor) open the album, followed by selections by composers from the Romantic (Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Dvořák, Saint-Saëns, Massenet) and contemporary (Shostakovich, Kreisler, Gershwin) eras. Beyond that, Ma’s latter-day explorations of Brazilian and Chinese traditions—as well as bluegrass, jazz, standards from The Great American Songbook, and soundtrack music—have been curated here. Highlights include “Simple Gifts,” performed as a lovely duet with vocalist Alison Krauss, and a jaunty reading of Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes.”

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