• A Mendelssohn concert by the pianist Emanuel Ax, the violinist Itzhak Perlman and the cellist Yo-Yo Ma at Carnegie Hall on Tuesday evening was ostensibly a celebration of the Mendelssohn bicentennial. But it was also a reminder of the unabated star power of these celebrity musicians. Chairs were placed on both sides of the stage to accommodate the capacity audience, with plenty of teenagers and children in attendance.

    The concert opened with an evocative performance of Mendelssohn’s Opus 109 “Song Without Words” for piano and cello, a vehicle for Mr. Ma’s gorgeous tone and elegant phrasing. Mr. Ma and Mr. Ax also performed several arrangements of “Songs Without Words” by the contemporary composer Patrick Castillo. (Mendelssohn wrote 48 such songs for piano solo.) A soulful, burnished rendition of Opus 62, No. 1, was a highlight of the evening.

    Mr. Perlman offered still more arrangements of “Songs Without Words” by Mr. Castillo, these for violin and piano. In contrast to Mr. Ma’s powerful sound, Mr. Perlman’s tone was sometimes lackluster, and he had intonation problems throughout the evening. But he also played with expressive musicianship, sensitively accompanied by Mr. Ax in selections like Heifetz’s version of Mendelssohn’s Opus 19b, No. 1.

    In 1837, after composing many of the “Songs Without Words,” Mendelssohn said he “would rather write bigger things,” a goal he quickly realized with substantial chamber works like the Piano Trio No. 1 in D minor, which the musicians performed in the first half of the program.

    Mr. Ax played the muscular piano part with flair, the dark-hued opening bars representing a dramatic change from the sunny melodies of the preceding songs. The concert concluded with the Piano Trio No. 2 in C minor. Despite muddy passages and imprecise playing, it was a passionate performance that earned enthusiastic applause between movements and a rousing ovation at the end.

    Then Mr. Perlman said from the stage, “It’s the Mendelssohn year, so we’ll play some Brahms for you.” And as an encore the musicians played the second movement of Brahms’s Piano Trio No. 2 in C.

    - Vivien Schweitzer, The New York Times

  • Yo-Yo Ma and The Silk Road Ensemble receive rave reviews. Yo-Yo and the Silk Road will be performing at Alice Tully Hall in New York City on June 5th and 6th.

    "Yo-Yo Ma builds new bridges across cultures" - Toronto Star

    "There are no words for what Silk Road Ensemble Creates" - Twin Cities Pioneer Press

    Click here to read the reviews.

  • Penn State University will be honoring Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman and Emanuel Ax with the 2009 Institute for the Arts and Humanities Medals for Distinguished Contributions to the Arts and Humanities.

    Check out this series of articles from Penn State University about Yo-Yo Ma, Emanuel Ax and Itzhak Perlman’s upcoming performances of the Mendelssohn’s Piano Trio.

    Yo-Yo Ma will be performing a sold out performance of the Mendelssohn Piano Trio with Itzhak Perlman and Emanuel Ax on Tuesday March 31st at Carnegie Hall.

  • Listen to the Score of Ashes of Time Redux

    After his acclaimed performances on the soundtracks of Memoirs of a Geisha and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, cellist Yo-Yo Ma is the featured soloist throughout the score of, Ashes of Time Redux.

    Ashes of Time was originally completed in 1994, to limited release. Since then, the existing prints and negatives have been damaged or destroyed. Director Wong Kar Wai says, "we decided to revisit this project to create the definitive version." He and his colleagues gathered as much existing material as could be found and restored those elements, using advanced technology that had not existed in the early '90's. He also collaborated with Yo-Yo Ma to create a new soundtrack, rearranging some of the original compositions by Freddie Chan and adding some original ones.

    On the Ashes of Time Score, Yo-Yo Ma and Wu Tong, joined a group of young Chinese musicians in the recording studio to re-create the score for Ashes of Time Redux. On this recording, Ma's cello, as the instrument closest in pitch range to our voice, becomes a principal "narrator" telling us of love, life and loss.

    To infuse the sounds of East and West for the Ashes of Time Redux score, Chan chose traditional Chinese instruments "dongxiao" (vertical bamboo flute) and "gaohu" (two-stringed fiddle) and recorded a guitar, which can imitate the sound of the "pipa" (Chinese flute). According to Chan, the "dongxiao" epitomizes the solitary existence of swordsmen, while the high-pitched squeaks of the "gaohu" presents the unpredictability of fate and human savagery.

    The soundtrack is a testament to the remarkable achievement of artists crossing the great divide between traditional and classical, folk and modern, East and West.

    For more information on the film Ashes of Time Redux visit:

  • New John Williams Composition Performed at President Obama's Inauguration by Yo-Yo Ma, Anthony McGill, Gabriela Montero and Itzhak Perlman

    Now Available Exclusively at iTunes

    "Air and Simple Gifts" is a classical quartet written by American composer John Williams for the January 20, 2009 inauguration of Barack Obama as President of the United States. The piece was first heard by the public in Washington, DC, and on simultaneous broadcasts around the world in a performance by Anthony McGill (clarinet), Itzhak Perlman (violin), Yo-Yo Ma (cello) and Gabriela Montero (piano). The premiere of Air and Simple Gifts came immediately before the oath of office. Barack Obama officially became the President at noon, as stipulated by the United States Constitution, while the piece was being heard.

    John Williams based the piece on the familiar nineteenth-century Shaker hymn Simple Gifts by Joseph Brackett. The source piece is famous for its appearance in Aaron Copland's score for the ballet Appalachian Spring. Williams chose the selection knowing that Copland is one of President Obama's favorite classical composers.

    Click to hear an excerpt from “Air and Simple Gifts.”

    Read more about Yo-Yo Ma's Inaugural Performance in the Community section of his website.

  • On the heels of Yo-Yo Ma’s current success with his best-selling album, " Songs of Joy & Peace," the superstar cellist has been invited to perform at the inauguration of President-elect Obama on January 20, 2009. After Vice President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. is sworn in by Justice John Paul Stevens, Yo-Yo Ma along with Itzhak Perlman on violin, Gabriela Montero on piano and Anthony McGill on clarinet will perform the new work composed by John Williams, "Air and Simple Gifts." Then, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. will administer the oath of office to Mr. Obama, who will then deliver his inaugural address.

    Buy "Songs of Joy & Peace" from or iTunes

    Songs of Joy & Peace

RSS feed