Yo-Yo Ma Plays the Music of John Williams is a 2002 album of John Williams compositions performed by Yo-Yo Ma and the Recording Arts Orchestra of Los Angeles.
For an instrument with such rich expressive powers, the cello has long suffered from a shortage of great concertos. Leave it to John Williams, the composer best known for his popular, emotionally charged scores to Star Wars, E.T., and many other blockbuster movies, to ride to the rescue with a new "Cello Concerto", an intense, expressive, and rhythmically vital offering tailor-made for Yo-Yo Ma's dexterous touch.
Like the composer's "Violin Concerto", this one is imbued with impressionistic textures and colors, but there's also a hard-driving, modern edge. Call it 21st-century Ravel. Williams wrote the concerto with Ma in mind, and it's a test of even Ma's formidable technique. It also boasts powerful orchestral writing, especially for the percussion and brass.
Three other premieres are included on the album as well. The "Elegy for Cello and Orchestra" is a lyrical and atmospheric tone poem, with shades of Fauré at every turn of phrase. The expressionistic "Three Pieces for Solo Cello", though, seem more akin to Benjamin Britten's solo cello suites in their abstract, concentrated intensity. Heartwood is another tender and sensitive reverie. It gradually builds in strength but ends as it began, with a whisper of tranquil serenity.
Ma's virtuosity is dazzling, and his engagement with the music is typically deep. He makes clear that Williams' music isn't just for the movies; indeed, with his new concerto, Williams has done the cello a great service.
Features: • Numbered Limited Edition • Super Audio CD • SACD Stereo SACD Layer • This Hybrid SACD contains a 'Red Book' Stereo CD Layer which is playable on most conventional CD Players!
Musicians: Yo-Yo Ma, cello Recording Arts Orchestra of Los Angeles John Williams, conductor
Selections: Concerto for Cello and Orchestra 1. I. Theme And Cadenza 2. II. Blues 3. III. Scherzo
Concerto for Cello and Orchestra 4. IV. Song 5. Elegy For Cello And Orchestra
Three Pieces For Solo Cello 6. I. Rosewood 7. II. Pickin' 8. III. The Long Way North