Yo-Yo Ma Plays Cello Masterworks is an eight-CD box set of previously released material recorded in the 1980s and 1990s, and presumably so familiar to his fans that the package doesn't even come with a booklet. It really is a no-frills affair, right down to the thin cardboard sleeves that repeat the same photograph on the box, instead of offering original cover art. But the greatest disappointment is that only three of J.S. Bach's Six Cello Suites were included, so listeners seeking them should forego this budget package and find the complete suites, which Ma recorded twice.
Lakou Mazik is a multigenerational collective of Haitian musicians formed in the aftermath of the devastating 2010 earthquake. The group includes elder legends and rising young talents, united in a mission to honor the healing spirit of their collective culture and communicate a message of pride, strength and hope to the world. Wa Di Yo, Nou La Toujou You Tell Them, We're Still Here.
The classical works of Tan Dun typically fuse compositional elements from the East and the West, but for his soundtrack to Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, musical cultures aren't so much blurred as coexistent side-by-side. While the magical martial arts film doesn't boast music as stunning as its visuals, this soundtrack is still beautiful and elegant, a perfect complement to the movie's mysticism. Just don't expect epic, John Williams-inspired bombast here. On "A Wedding Interrupted," the riveting brass and string section introduction segues into soft-hued meditations; "Night Fight" boasts spiky percussion but sounds more reminiscent of Stomp than a kung-fu scene. That said, Dun's understated score–filled with Asian instrumentation, Romantic cello solos from Yo-Yo Ma, and a token theme song with vocals by Asian pop star CoCo Lee–is still a fascinating listen. Fans of Ma and Dun shouldn't pass this up.