Obscurity Knocks

Earnest, empathetic, industrious, unpretentious, gay Virgo in Milwaukee with a great life, amazing friends, and a wonderful family.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Yo Yo Ma

My friend Anne B. invited me to join her for this concert last night. This was the second time I have seen Mr. Ma. The last time he was in Milwaukee, I saw him play the Dvorak Cello Concerto. He is a truly amazing and collaborative musician. It was a wonderful evening.

Yo-Yo Ma gives inspiring and generous show
By TOM STRINIJournal Sentinel music critic
Posted: May 7, 2008
When Yo-Yo played along with the Milwaukee Symphony cello section, as he often did Wednesday night in R. Strauss' "Don Quixote," he made eye contact all the way to the players at the back stands. He leaned way around Andreas Delfs' podium to see concertmaster Frank Almond and the first violins when his solo cello line joined theirs. He swiveled nearly 180 degrees to lock eyes and interlock rhythms with frequent duet partner Robert Levine, whose bold viola played Sancho Panza to Ma's Quixote. Ma and Delfs practically danced to communicate their cues. When Ma wasn't playing at all, his ear turned to the winds or horns or whoever owned the moment.
Ma did not merely plug in what he always does to whatever Delfs and the MSO might do. He heard the totality of the music. He took in everything and applied it to an interpretation unique to this night with this orchestra in this city. Such behavior from your superstar soloist inspires an orchestra. The MSO played Strauss' vast, mercurial score with the communicative verve of top-drawer chamber musicians on a roll. The result was a miracle of musical storytelling.
In addition to expressive, beautiful sound and confident, even definitive, shaping of Strauss' tricky, gestural melodies, Ma brought an infectious love of music to bear on the evening. Playing an instrument well is difficult, and playing under pressure for pay before a sellout crowd at Uihlein Hall doesn't make it easier - unless you're Yo-Yo Ma. His supple bowing and graceful left hand look effortless. His face beams with such delight that he makes colleagues and patrons alike think: Hey, it's fun to play music!
As an encore, at Delfs' request, Ma played the Prelude to Bach's Cello Suite No. 1. The sublime, brisk, straightforward reading was just the right chaser for the overripe and frequently ironic Romanticism of "Don Quixote."
Ma did not sit in with the orchestra during Beethoven's Symphony No. 7, but his spirit did. The audience quite sensibly went crazy for Delf's thrill-a-second reading. Ma won't be back, but you'll have another chance at the Seventh at the orchestra's subscription concerts Friday through Sunday. Take it.


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