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28Aug/18

Yo-Yo Ma – Six Evolutions – Bach: Cello Suites

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This is Yo-Yo Ma's third recording of Bach's six Cello Suites, which is wild in its own way, and they're all different (of course). I'm not an expert on classical music in any respect, but it is totally fascinating to listen to someone else's interpretation, over many years, of this music. Based on a few pretty cursory listens to the three versions of the Cello Suite in G Major Prelude that Ma has recorded, it seems to me like the one he did in his 20s was around the same tempo as Rostropovich's recording, which is to say, maybe about what you'd expect. Then the recording that Ma did in his 40s is much faster, sort of high energy and a little thinner on the sound (at least it feels like that to me — again, I'm no expert). When I first listened to the G Major Prelude on "Six Evolutions," I think my jaw dropped a little — it's so much slower than I expected. There's like a little hitch in between phrases at some points, and it catches me off guard. Ma said he wanted to make a new recording because Bach's Cello Suites have had a huge impact on his life, and he thinks that music and culture can provide solutions to difference, and he wants to share the music with a more diverse audience. To me, it's always fun to think about how one's interpretation of a work of art can change with age — how certain aspects of a work can acquire (or lose) meaning, how you respond with totally different emotions at one point in your life than you might later.

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  1. I’ve been listening to this one and his second recording of these a lot. I wish I could say anything about how it feels to have them on in the house—but it’s beyond me. Beauty, jest beauty


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