Cellist Yo-Yo Ma has long been a giant in the classical world, though he has also made a number of recordings with musicians who play other styles. This holiday disc doesn't exclusively stick to traditional Christmas songs, but covers a wide scope of material in a very ambitious manner.
"Yo-Yo Ma Plays Bach" is one of several titles in Sony's new "Music For You" Series, easily identified by their artsy, photographic covers. The material on this CD has been available previously on CBS Masterworks. True, Ma does play music by Bach, but it is sonatas (originally intended for viola da gamba and not cello) by Bach, and the Sinfonia Concertante by Bach's youngest son, Johann Christian Bach. Not that Sony is lying and not that most people will care or feel cheated, but since this title is obviously aimed at classical novices, I just thought I'd set the record straight. In a similar vein, hopefully those that discover both Bach and Yo-Yo Ma via this disc will like what they hear, and go on to get one of Ma's two recordings of the Bach "Cello Suites" – the real yardstick for composer and performer alike. ~Amazon
Bach showed that the cello can dance, but composers from Rossini to Shostakovich have favored it as an instrument of pensive reflection and brooding melancholy. The playful cover photo notwithstanding, SOLO features Yo-Yo Ma in five 20th century cello works of a serious nature, all with folk influence and all echoing at least a bit of the troubles of the times in which they were written.
Originally recorded in 1989, The Sacred Bridge contains a speculative program linking various genres of Christian and Jewish religious music, most of it medieval. The Boston Camerata continued to perform the program in various forms in subsequent years.