John Williams Yo-Yo Ma Plays the Music of John Williams
Out of Print: Future availability is unknown
- Released: February 19, 2002
- Originally Released: 2002
- Label: Sony
- 1.Concerto for Cello and Orchestra: I. Theme and Cadenza
- 2.Concerto for Cello and Orchestra: Ii. Blues
- 3.Concerto for Cello and Orchestra: Iii. Scherzo
- 4.Concerto for Cello and Orchestra: Iv. Song
- 5.Elegy for Cello and Orchestra
- 7.Three Pieces for Solo Cello
- 9.The Long Way North
Film scorers who diligently pursue separate careers as composers of serious concert works (Korngold and Morricone, for two) frequently see the former trumpeted far and wide at the expense--and often woeful neglect--of the latter. Even John Williams, the most heralded film composer of the past quarter-century, hasn't been immune. But this compelling collection shouldn't be overlooked. Indeed, the participation of superstar cellist Yo-Yo Ma should gain it wider appeal in classical circles. But while Ma's dramatic, ever-masterful work takes star billing, it's the challenging framework of Williams's compositions (three of which--the Concerto, Three Pieces for Solo Cello, and "Heartwood"--were specifically written for Ma) that's the album's true focus. Even admirers of Williams's more adventurous film work (i.e., Close Encounters and A.I.) may be startled at the deeply introspective landscape he explores here. His always intriguing use of color finds its perfect voice in Ma, whose restless technical explorations here encompass even percussion. The Concerto alone ranges from a welcoming brass flourish in its opening movement through a personal and obtuse take on the blues in its second, before reaching an uneasy pastoral resolve. The emotionally potent "Elegy" stems from noble, intensely personal work Williams composed as a memorial for a friend's fallen children, while Three Pieces for Solo Cello explore the American black experience through an ostensibly unlikely, if eventually rewarding choice of instrument. "Heartwood" offers up an impressionistic tone poem of understated grandeur, as well as another of Williams's great gifts--his continued ability to take a listener by surprise. --Jerry McCulley
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