Review Roundup: NY Philharmonic With Cellist Yo-Yo Ma

Review Roundup: NY Philharmonic With Cellist Yo-Yo Ma

Review Roundup: NY Philharmonic With Cellist Yo-Yo Ma

Yo-Yo Ma joined forces with Alan Gilbert and the Philharmonic for the New York Premiere of a Cello Concerto by Composer-in-Residence Esa-Pekka Salonen, whose music has been described as "exquisite" and "thrilling" by The New York Times. Berlioz's passion-inspired blockbuster Symphonie fantastique dazzles with a palette of amazing orchestral colors and effects.

Let's see what the critics had to say:

ANTHONY TOMMASINI, NY Times: Finally, a searching cello line breaks loose, sounding like intense yet wayward thoughts unfolding in endless phrases. Mr. Ma's warm, dusky playing of this lyrical stretch was wondrously cushioned by the orchestra's harmonically ambiguous atmospherics.... In the second movement, a series of sound "clouds," as Mr. Salonen calls them, swell and subside. Though these musical clouds may seem motionless on the surface, they are built from teeming matrices of overlapping riffs and figures. At a crucial moment (just one of several such episodes), Mr. Ma played high, exquisitely soft phrases as live tape loops echoed his cello through speakers in the hall, like sonic shadows.

David Wright, NY Classical Review: But at its New York unveiling, Salonen's new Cello Concerto, with Ma as soloist and the New York Philharmonic led by Alan Gilbert, seemed a work longer on novelty than expression-hardly what one would expect, given the famously passionate and ebullient performer it was composed for... It was perhaps to deal with such expectations that conductor Gilbert invited the composer onstage before the performance to talk about what he was trying to do in the piece. In an off-the-cuff summary of his long program note, Salonen described the three-movement concerto as "one continuous zoom"-starting amid "chaos" far out in space, passing a theme trailing fragments of itself "like the tail of a comet," focusing closer and closer until, by the third movement, the music was about a single person "for whom words are not enough, so he is gesticulating." Finally "the individual bursts out" with a single note, the extremely high B flat that ends the piece.

Alex Ross, The New Yorker:

Photo Credit: Chris Lee

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