Yo-Yo Ma

Saint-Saëns, Schumann: Cello Concertos

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Take one look at babyfaced Yo-Yo Ma on the cover of this Sony Music Japan album and you'll instantly be aware that it is a reissue of Ma's early recordings of the Schumann and Saint-Saëns cello concertos with the National Orchestra of France under Lorin Maazel. U.S. listeners may notice that this same cover is used on the album featuring the Lalo concerto in place of the Schumann. Recorded in 1980 and 1985, respectively, these versions of the Saint-Saëns and Schumann concertos remind us of the brash, perhaps even impulsive Ma. Tempos were fast and furious, rubato flowed like honey, and drama and bravura were the name of the game. Ma's playing here, though, is nothing if not exciting, and sometimes that's enough to make a recording worthy of reissue. What's interesting is that this early recording makes possible an assessment of Ma's change and development over the years, especially when comparing this somewhat impetuous interpretation of the Schumann to his later, more staid, refined 1992 recording. The disc concludes with an equally energized recording of Saint-Saëns' Carnival of the Animals. Taken from a 1978 original, the sound quality here is less rich and full than in the two concertos.

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