Cello Concerto; Music for Cello and Orchestra; Cello Concerto
Yo-Yo Ma (cello)Philadelphia Orchestra/David Zinman
Catalogue Number:
SK 66299
BBC Music Magazine
This disc is a monument to the power of private patronage in America. Two of the concertos were commissioned for Ma by rich individuals, the third by a couple who wanted to commemorate their fortieth wedding anniversary. Could this be why none of the music has any edge to it? Throughout one gets a sense of edges softened in plush, like the rooms at concert venues set aside for corporate patrons. The sound is ingratiatingly rich, and hardly a chord is without a trimming of vibraphone and tubular bells. Much of the music is in that sentimental-brutal style popularised over here by James MacMillan, with crashingly obvious musical symbolism: for example, in the Rouse we hear a sugar-sweet chorale drowned by a sudden percussive clang to indicate the remorseless power of death. The Danielpour ends in a similar vein, though the music is much better written. The Kirchner is easily the best of the bunch – it is concise in its sumptuousness and the harmony sounds coherent, in spite of a disconcerting way of evoking Wagner at one moment and Takemitsu the next. Overall I was left with an impression of vast resources and great performing talent – particularly from Yo-Yo Ma, who plays his heart out – squandered on mediocre music. Ivan Hewett
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