WORKS: Journey into the heart of American musical tradition
PERFORMER: Yo-Yo Ma (cello), Edgar Meyer (double bass), Mark O’Connor (violin)
CATALOGUE NO: SK 68460
The insert note claims that this disc features ‘something entirely new’. It certainly offers first-rate musicians giving invigorating performances, recorded both truthfully and atmospherically.
But what of the music? These short pieces are realisations of the American Fiddle Tunes compilation from the Library of Congress collection, mostly performed by violin, cello and double bass. Every country has a rich reservoire of folk music, and the US is no exception, though its links with Europe are strong.
The influences most at work here seem to be the Irish ballad and reel. The opening number, ‘The Green Groves of Erin’, is a case in point, with its infectious rhythms. There are also deeply felt folksongs which have the quality of laments.
But the faster pieces, which are the majority, assume a motor-rhythmical character not unlike that of the modern style we call minimalism. These fine musicians bring a distinctive freshness and vitality to this music, with performance standards which transcend its original nature. Terry Barfoot