Yo-Yo Ma

Sounds of Yo-Yo Ma

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Sony's 2004 compilation of selections from Yo-Yo Ma's previous albums is sure to disappoint on several points, and unlikely to please any but the least critical listener. First, Ma's devoted fans should already have the original discs, or at least those that matter most to them, and these excerpts offer nothing that has not been heard before. Second, the program is stylistically eclectic and diverse, corresponding to the variety of Ma's interests; but the arrangement here is aesthetically jarring, for too many styles are placed cheek by jowl, and the differences are stressed too blatantly. Third, the tracks are all short -- no doubt to accommodate as many tidbits as possible -- so there is little opportunity to judge Ma's playing in depth, and only fleeting impressions of his virtuosity and expression are possible. Fourth, and perhaps most dubious, the CD purports to include Ma's greatest performances, yet it really presents his flashiest playing and most familiar "hits," among them the Preludio from Bach's Suite No. 1 in G major and Mark O'Connor's Appalachia Waltz. The sound quality is generally good for an ad hoc sampler, and the levels between the chamber pieces and the works for larger ensembles are well-adjusted. However, any one of the complete albums is a better investment than this unsatisfying potpourri.

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