Monday, November 30, 2015

SIMPLY Baroque

It was only a matter of time before the remarkable Yo-Yo Ma went along with the tide and dipped his talent into the so-called authentic instrument movement. On this recital, abetted by Ton Koopman--one of the most respected names in early-music practice--Ma plays Bach and Boccherini. The Bach are all transcriptions and very fine ones, indeed--the alto aria "Erbarme Dich" from the St. Matthew Passion; the equally famous "Air on a G String" from the Third Orchestral Suite; Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring; and six others, most less well-known.

These are followed by two fascinating cello concertos by Boccherini, made all the more interesting by Koopman's cadenzas, which are pretty outrageous. Throughout, Ma's stunning virtuosity is matched by his taste and musicality. The Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra plays handsomely, and the recorded sound is warm and full. "Authentic" or not, this is mighty fine playing, and wait till you hear those cadenzas. --Robert Levine

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