Celebrity cellist Yo-Yo Ma performed with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra to a near-capacity crowd Wednesday night time, and the palpable pleasure radiating off that tightly packed viewers was actually comprehensible. Ma is that rarest of gamers — like Wynton Marsalis to the trumpet or Eddie Van Halen to the guitar — whose mastery and affect are so all-encompassing that he casts a shadow throughout the very idea of the instrument itself.
In a profession spanning 4 a long time, Ma has amassed a formidable discography of greater than 90 albums, received 18 Grammy awards, and scaled the heights of musical accomplishment throughout a seemingly limitless array of genres from the western classical cannon to the unique outer reaches explored by his Silkroad Ensemble.
Although Ma commanded the night’s consideration, he shared the stage with one other dominating presence: 18th century Czech composer Antonín Dvořák, whose works made up each halves of the night’s program. “From the New World,” Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, Op. 95, would open the night and be carried out solely by the ASO, whereas the Cello Concerto in B Minor, Op. 104, would see the ensemble joined by Ma. Robert Spano, the ASO’s outgoing music director, occupied the rostrum for a night of bombastic vitality that appeared to naturally transcend the confines of his conservative conducting method.
“From the New World” is a sweeping tour de pressure, one commissioned from Dvořák by American philanthropist Jeannette Thurber, who hoped to co-opt the composer’s nationalistic attitudes towards the music of his homeland into an analogous enthusiasm for classical music amongst American listeners. Thurber’s preliminary imaginative and prescient for her fee was a Native American opera derived from the poem “The Music of Hiawatha” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Problem in finalizing a libretto would ship the venture spiraling into growth hell, however not earlier than offering materials for the internal actions — the Largo and Scherzo — of “From the New World.”
Within the palms of the ASO, “From the New World” was a tightly managed show of wide-reaching dynamics. The opening Adagio is filled with righteous fury intercut with turn-on-a-dime shifts into moments of sedate calm, a lot akin to the enduring opening bars of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. When a composition depends on sudden tonal jumps on this method, it's often the accountability of the softer passages to construct up the melodic pressure that can make the explosive fury of the louder moments efficient. To this finish, the ASO’s exemplary woodwind part delivered a meditative, soothing undercurrent for the general work.
Of explicit be aware was the extraordinary solo work of principal oboist Elizabeth Koch Tiscione. A fluid command of the oboe alone is trigger for reward, given the instrument’s notoriously tough nature. However Koch Tiscione introduced one thing else to the efficiency — a sequence of solos that took a step past the realm of technical mastery and into the form of human connection that each one musicians attempt for however few attain.
After intermission, Yo-Yo Ma took the stage to ship a charming efficiency of Dvořák’s Cello Concerto in B Minor, Op. 104. The piece itself is considerably paradoxical — regardless of being written to characteristic the cello, it appears to make the instrument a secondary focus to the bigger ensemble. The cello interjects slightly than dominates, a stark distinction from, for instance, the work of Beethoven, the place concertos for particular devices are basically glorified solos and the ensemble disappears into the background. It’s an oddly restrained alternative for a live performance that includes the world’s main cellist however one which Ma himself was prepared to throw himself into wholeheartedly.
From the outset, Ma made a daring alternative in his tone and eschewed crowd-pleasing softness for a sound that was brash and nasal, giving the cello a tone extra akin to a viola. It was a disarming sound that stood in stark distinction to the ASO’s clean magnificence.
He appeared to be hitting his vibrato tougher than was crucial and digging in with the bow to an nearly obnoxious diploma. Nevertheless it quickly turned obvious that this brazen distortion of his tone was the results of limitless explorations into the whole lot from conventional Chinese language people sounds to American bluegrass and the whole lot in between. Ma was not merely taking part in Dvořák as a classical cellist however as a consummate musician who bore the burden of a complete world of influences in each be aware that he performed. The tone turned one thing transcendental and charming, even when it began as an acquired style. Ma’s daring resolution had reinvigorated the piece, discovering vitality and originality the place one wouldn't usually suppose to search for it.
For all his avant-garde showmanship, Ma would embrace a extra conventional tone for his sudden encore: a efficiency of J.S. Bach’s Cello Suite No. 6 in D Main, BWV 1012: IV “Sarabande.” The piece was delivered as a tribute to former ASO cellist Christopher Rex in gentle of his latest dying. To listen to a grand grasp of the instrument take the time to pay tribute to certainly one of Atlanta’s personal was an honor to behold and a comforting gesture to a neighborhood music neighborhood nonetheless dealing with the lack of certainly one of its most beloved figures.