“If Mr. Ma seemed wholly at ease, a veteran politician delightedly working a town hall,” writes Zachary Woolfe in The New York Times, “it is because his visit, blending Bach and social responsibility, was nothing unusual in the career of the musician of our civic life. The one we call upon to play at the funeral Mass of a senator and the inauguration of a president, the anniversary of a terrorist attack and the commemoration of the victims of a bombing.

“And what Mr. Ma plays at moments like those, to make us cry and then soothe us, is, more often than not, a selection from the Bach cello suites. These six works are the Everest of his instrument’s repertory, offering a guide to nearly everything a cello can do — as well as, many believe, charting a remarkably complete anatomy of emotion and aspiration.”