Songs of Comfort & Hope

Yo-Yo Ma / Kathryn Stott

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Songs of Comfort & Hope Review

by Matt Collar

Cellist Yo-Yo Ma and pianist Kathryn Stott continue their longstanding creative partnership with their warmly delivered 2020 duo album Songs of Comfort & Hope. Recorded during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, the set initially began as a series of online performances Ma gave as a way of connecting with and offering solace to his fans. Using the hashtag #SongsofComfort, Ma posted his solo performances and encouraged others to post theirs in turn. As an organic outgrowth of that process, Ma then paired with Stott to record some of the songs, as well as others in the same spirit. The resulting Songs of Comfort & Hope follows their previous Grammy-winning collaborations, 1997's Soul of the Tango: The Music of Astor Piazzolla and 2003's Obrigado Brazil, and finds them performing a mix of traditional folk tunes, classical pieces, and jazz standards. There's a textural, ASMR quality to many of these performances, as in the opening "Amazing Grace, Prelude," in which Ma and Stott play against a backdrop of what sounds like a boat rocking gently in a storm at sea. Less theatrical, if no less captivating songs follow, including atmospheric renditions of Antonin Dvorák's "Going Home," Wu Tong's "Rain Falling from the Roof," and Francis Poulenc's "Les Chemins de l'Amour." Particularly vibrant is their take on "Scarborough Fair" as they each take turns playing the melody while the other offers shimmering, percussive accompaniment. It's that deeply engaging interplay between Ma and Stott throughout all of Songs of Comfort & Hope that makes the album both a compelling and relaxing experience.

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Amazing Grace, Prelude & Postlude
1 Yo-Yo Ma / Kathryn Stott 04:05 Amazon
2 Yo-Yo Ma / Kathryn Stott 04:05 Amazon
3 Yo-Yo Ma / Kathryn Stott 05:22 Amazon
4 Yo-Yo Ma / Kathryn Stott 05:26 Amazon
Jewish Life
5 Yo-Yo Ma / Kathryn Stott 02:16 Amazon
6 Yo-Yo Ma / Kathryn Stott 02:09 Amazon
7 Yo-Yo Ma / Kathryn Stott 02:56 Amazon
8 Yo-Yo Ma / Kathryn Stott 03:37 Amazon
9 Yo-Yo Ma / Kathryn Stott 05:27 Amazon
10 Yo-Yo Ma / Kathryn Stott 04:14 Amazon
11 Yo-Yo Ma / Kathryn Stott 04:54 Amazon
12 Yo-Yo Ma / Kathryn Stott 02:32 Amazon
Peer Gynt
13 Yo-Yo Ma / Kathryn Stott 04:38 Amazon
14 Yo-Yo Ma / Kathryn Stott 03:07 Amazon
15 Yo-Yo Ma / Kathryn Stott 06:09 Amazon
16 Yo-Yo Ma / Kathryn Stott 01:58 Amazon
17 Yo-Yo Ma / Kathryn Stott 03:46 Amazon
18 Yo-Yo Ma / Kathryn Stott 04:12 Amazon
19 Yo-Yo Ma / Kathryn Stott 03:12 Amazon
20 Yo-Yo Ma / Kathryn Stott 03:04 Amazon
Amazing Grace, Prelude & Postlude
21 Yo-Yo Ma / Kathryn Stott 01:43 Amazon
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