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Silk Road Journeys: When Strangers Meet

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Audio CD, April 16, 2002
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Product Details

  • Performer: Silk Road Ensemble, Yo-Yo Ma, Franghiz Ali-Zadeh, Kayhan Kalhor
  • Orchestra: Michio Mamiya
  • Composer: Filippo Azzaiolo, Tan Dun
  • Audio CD (April 16, 2002)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sony
  • ASIN: B0000641CG
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #39,036 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Mongolian Traditional longsong
2. Legend of Herlen (Byambasuren Sharav)
3. "Blue Little Flower" (Chinese Traditional)
4. "Mido Mountain" (Chinese Traditional)
5. Moon over Guan Mountain (Zhao Jiping)
6. "Miero vuotti uutta kuuta" from Five Finnish Folk Songs (Michio Mamiya)
7. "Joiku" from Five Finnish Folk Songs (Michio Mamiya)
8. Avaz-e Dashti (Persian Traditional)
9. Habil-Sayagy (In Habil's Style) for cello and prepared piano (Franghiz Ali-Zadeh)
10. Blue as the Turquoise Night of Neyshabur (Kayhan Kalhor)
11. Chi passa per'sta strada (Filippo Azzaiolo)
12. Desert Capriccio (Music from the film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon/Tan Dun) (Bonus Track)

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

This disc introduces Yo-Yo Ma's latest and most ambitious adventure, the Silk Road Project. It explores the cultures that flourished along the Silk Road, the ancient trade route that for centuries connected Europe and the East. Founded by Ma in 1998, the project aims to create connections, mutual trust, and cultural interchange between people from different parts of the world through their only shared language: music.

This recording includes music from Mongolia, China, Persia, Japan, Iran, Azerbaijan, and an improvisation on an Italian Renaissance street song, performed by musicians from all those countries, as well as America, on both Eastern and Western instruments. Ma, who participates in every piece either as soloist or part of the ensemble, plays cello and a Mongolian "horse-head fiddle." There is also a Mongolian soprano, who sings a traditional song native to her region. For the uninitiated Western listener, the music requires some getting used to. Much of it is based on rhythmic ostinatos. The melodies use Oriental scales; the intonation is untempered; the music seems all color, texture, and atmosphere, without what might be called themes; and repetition takes the place of development. Contrast is achieved through sudden change, buildup by adding instruments. However, the music is often beautiful, delicate, dreamy, or peaceful; every listener will find his or her own favorite pieces. The playing is splendid, with much inventive improvisation. Inevitably, Ma's tone and personality stand out, but he never dominates in fact or spirit. The booklet offers essays by Ma and the project's musicologist, Theodore Levin, photographs of the players, and drawings of the Eastern instruments. --Edith Eisler

Customer Reviews

This CD is a very good mix of several traditions in music.
Victor Coo
With this music I can let my imagination wild and fancy that I am traveling all those far off places and experiencing the cultures.
There was far too much that just sounded like "screeching" to me.
Shirley Dodge

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

115 of 122 people found the following review helpful By Mick McAllister on May 10, 2002
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Most "fusion" recordings remind me of a pretentious little restaurant in Salt Lake City that jumbles together French haute cuisine and Chinese condiments. Name of "Haut Chinoise" or some such--three perfectly poached spears of asparagus, garnished with ginger. Right. The digestif is a chocolate-dipped fortune cookie.
But occasionally something comes along like Yehudi Menuhin's collaborations with Ravi Shankar or this, cellist Yo-Yo Ma's ambitious blend of classical instruments with the music of central and eastern Asia; and the potential for evolving new art from spliced traditions is realized.
This is not classical slumming, nor is it Middle Eastern folk music jazzed up. It hasn't the odd discontinuity one hears when the trained voice of an opera star sings gospel music or folk songs "correctly." The compositions and arrangements present a unified suite of sound, moving as comfortably as a caravan from Renaissance Italy (with a side trip to Finland!) to Persia, Mongolia, and into China.
The sound is exotic, from the initial shock of the piercing Mongolian street singer's shrill tremulo to the belly dance rhythms of the later pieces. The quality of the sound is impeccable, as one would expect of an artist as meticulous at Yo-yo Ma. I heard this on the radio, and ordered it immediately. How glad I am, that CDs don't wear out.
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47 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Kindle Customer on April 27, 2002
Format: Audio CD
If your exposure to Yo Yo Ma is primarily through his classical performances on cello, Silk Road Journeys is likely to be a shock. However, if you have heard and enjoyed the beautiful soundtrack to Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, SRJ will be a treat. This is not pure traditional folk music, but rather contemporary music inspired by the traditions of the cultures who inhabit what was known as the Silk Road, from China to Europe. I am amazed that such a mix of styles fits together so well. This collaboration of musicians from different traditions reminds me of the West-meets-East recordings of Yehudi Menuhin and Ravi Shankar. Even if SRJ does not have the cultural impact of Menuhin and Shankar, I admire the creativity and boldness of this project. Fortunately it is also very listenable.
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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Jean Vignes on March 3, 2003
Format: Audio CD
One of the most exquisite, haunting, creative and sumptuous works of musical art to be produced in my lifetime. I cannot play this CD as 'background' music; it captures 100 percent of my heart and mind each time I play it. It is breathtaking and disturbing and almost heartbreakingly beautiful.
It is especially touching at this moment in time, when so much of our daily consciousness is caught up in the conflicts between cultures. This weaving together of musicians and instruments from different 'worlds' is healing for my soul at a level almost too deep to express. It portrays to me with delicate artistry what it means to be an individual member of a worldwide, ancient and variegated human race.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Pharoah S. Wail VINE VOICE on December 16, 2004
Format: Audio CD
Personnel: Yo-Yo Ma - Cello and morin khuur. Siamak Aghaei - santur. Edward Arron - cello. Nicholas Cords - viola. Sandeep Das - tabla. Stephen Dunkel - trombone. Joel Fan - piano and percussion. Joseph Gramley - percussion. Colin Jacobsen - violin. Siamak Jahangiri - ney. Kayhan Kalhor - kemancheh and setar. Xu Ke - erhu. Ganbaatar Khongorzul - vocals on one track. Wu Man - pipa. Edgar Meyer - upright bass. James Pugh - trombone. Todd Reynolds - violin. John Rutherford - trombone. Shane Shanahan - tabla. Mark Suter - percussion. Leo Suzuki - viola. Wu Tong - sheng. Yang Wei - pipa.

This disc is a lovely intersection for various musical ideas. As you probably know by now, the idea was to get a bunch of great musicians together from along various points of the historical Silk Road. Along with goods and spices, there was also a fair exchanging of less tangible things, such as art, music, ideas, etc...

That's what this disc is about. "Western classical music" is not the only classical music out there, and although historically the people most likely to be traveling the silk road, exchanging ideas and playing together would have been folk musicians, the concept still stands on its own here. Of particular resonance (at least to me) are the "Chinese" and "Iranian" tracks. I put those in quotes only because while it's true that all these songs (or at least their performances here) are hybridized, most of them still do have what could be called a "dominant influence" by one culture or another.

This disc will no doubt be heard differently by people of different backgrounds with these musics. For people who really never delve into "world music", this will no doubt sound quite "exotic".
Read more ›
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52 of 59 people found the following review helpful By Eugenie A. Albrecht on May 21, 2002
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Silk Road Journeys "When Strangers meet" Yo-Yo Ma & the Silk Road Ensemble
This has to be one of Yo-Yo Ma's finest CD's. With the cello there is such a magnificent blend of instruments that one feels right on the Silk Road. I found that the "silky" feeling is particularly strong on Track 5: Zhao Jiping: Moon over Guan Mountains through Tracks 6 and 7: Michio Mamiya: Five Finnish Folksongs and then Track 8 Avaz-e Dashti (Pesian Traditional)
but then continues in a different feel of different kinds of silk. Although it is an auditory feeling there is very much a kinesthetic feeling in this CD.
Besides traditional orchestral instruments, there is a fascinating array of musical instruments with their own kind of onomatopoeic names other than flutes, lutes, organs, drums, and fiddles. The printed insert is a superb piece of poetic writing to guide one on the origins of this Ensemble. It is certainly a masterpiece of music to listen to on one's own in particular. It is a kind of meditation and one where one can relate to immediately for peace of mind and spirit. The ensemble was formed on trust, according to Yo-Yo Ma. So "trust" me this is splendid! I look forward to more of this type of music.
Genie Albrecht
Windhoek Namibia.
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