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Paris La Belle Époque

4.3 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Audio CD, April 15, 2003
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Paris La Belle Époque

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The cello has often been called the king of string instruments because its range encompasses all four vocal registers. Nevertheless, cellists are always complaining of the comparative paucity of their literature, and feel justified in raiding more fertile fields. Even Yo-Yo Ma, who has enriched the repertoire by commissioning a considerable number of new works and exploring the native music of different continents, cannot resist the temptation to engage in a little poaching. On this record, he performs four staples of the violin literature in transcriptions for cello, three of them his own. They are linked by their supposed influence on the French writer Marcel Proust and his famous novel, In Search of Lost Time, and take us to early 20th-century Paris, where Ma was born of Chinese parents five decades later. Naturally, the transcriptions do not work equally well. All retain the original keys and leave the piano parts intact; perhaps in an effort to reproduce the violin's bright tone-color, they also retain the original pitch for long stretches. This exploits the cello's "soprano" voice, but though Ma handles the stratospheric register masterfully, even he cannot make it sound natural, so it always comes as a relief when he lets his instrument sound like a real cello in its "tenor" or "bass" voice. Highlights are the Fauré A-major Sonata and the Saint-Saëns Havanaise: charming and elegant, the former is thoroughly romantic, exuberant and sunny; the latter captures the atmosphere and Spanish idiom brilliantly. You probably have to be a cellist to like the famous, nameless transcription of the Franck Sonata; the performance is a bit excessive in tempo, dynamics and rhythmic freedom. Throughout, pianist Kathryn Stott is a tower of strength and a model of empathy. --Edith Eisler

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Product details

  • Performer: Yo-Yo Ma, Kathryn Stott
  • Composer: Jules Massenet, Gabriel Faure, Camille Saint-Saens, Cesar Franck
  • Audio CD (April 15, 2003)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sony Classical
  • Run Time: 66 minutes
  • ASIN: B00008NGCQ
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #120,989 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
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on February 23, 2013
Format: Audio CD|Verified Purchase
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on June 13, 2013
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on March 15, 2016
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on March 10, 2010
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on February 22, 2015
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on July 22, 2012
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on March 2, 2006
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on July 6, 2003
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