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Impossible to overstate Yo-Yo Ma at the San Diego Symphony

Few trust the music enough to play with the gauzy textures he used in the second movement

Yo-Yo Ma plays with ultimate delicacy. - Image by yo-yoma.com
Yo-Yo Ma plays with ultimate delicacy.

Legendary cellist Yo-Yo Ma performed with the San Diego Symphony Orchestra on Tuesday, May 7, at 8:00 pm, at The Civic Theatre. San Diego Symphony Music Director Rafael Payare conducted.


Before the concert, San Diego Symphony CEO Martha Gilmer addressed the audience with some sad news. San Diego philanthropist Joan Jacobs had died earlier in the day. The concert started with a moment of silence for Joan. 


The first piece of music performed was the “Act II Prelude” to Richard Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. The piece had been scheduled for months but was appropriately somber after the news about Joan Jacobs. The orchestra turned in a fine performance with excellent tuning in the brass chorale sections.


Yo-Yo Ma performed the Cello Concerto by Edward Elgar. It is impossible to overstate the magnificence of this musical experience. After the opening cello statement, Yo-Yo Ma leaned into the quiet opening phrases of Elgar’s masterpiece. It created an almost religious air about the music. When the famous dotted rhythms of the primary tune were taken up by the full orchestra, my emotions were stirred to a degree that I wasn’t expecting.

Video:

Elgar:Cello Concerto in E minor Op.85

Conductor:David Zinman Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Cello:Yo-Yo Ma 1994.11.11 Live in Japan


There were multiple elements at work. One, of course, was the architecture of Elgar’s music. The others were my knowledge of the piece and the performance. When you are very familiar with a piece of music, there is an opportunity for a master artist to take your breath away. Yo-Yo Ma made the familiar hit with the weight of a new discovery. I can’t explain exactly how that happens but every now and again it does and it is marvelous.

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Video:

P. Tchaikovsky - Symphony No.5, e moll, Op.64

Boston Symphony Orchestra, Leonard Bernstein


If I were to point out one element of Yo-Yo Ma’s playing it would be his ability to play with ultimate delicacy. Many cellists can put the sound of their instrument out to the back row. Many can handle the furious pace of the pitches. Few trust the music enough to play with the gauzy textures produced by Yo-Yo Ma in the lento second movement. This is where Yo-Yo Ma delivered an unforgettable evening.


The concert concluded with Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5. I’ve been chomping at the bit to hear Payare conduct one of the final three Tchaikovsky symphonies. The bond between him and the orchestra is undeniable and this performance was more than I could have hoped for.


In the opening movement, the phrasing of the first violins whipped the tune forward in a way I’ve never heard and it was thrilling, The monumental second movement garnered mid-performance applause and the finale proved that the sonic capabilities of the San Diego Symphony Orchestra are formidable indeed.





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Yo-Yo Ma plays with ultimate delicacy. - Image by yo-yoma.com
Yo-Yo Ma plays with ultimate delicacy.

Legendary cellist Yo-Yo Ma performed with the San Diego Symphony Orchestra on Tuesday, May 7, at 8:00 pm, at The Civic Theatre. San Diego Symphony Music Director Rafael Payare conducted.


Before the concert, San Diego Symphony CEO Martha Gilmer addressed the audience with some sad news. San Diego philanthropist Joan Jacobs had died earlier in the day. The concert started with a moment of silence for Joan. 


The first piece of music performed was the “Act II Prelude” to Richard Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. The piece had been scheduled for months but was appropriately somber after the news about Joan Jacobs. The orchestra turned in a fine performance with excellent tuning in the brass chorale sections.


Yo-Yo Ma performed the Cello Concerto by Edward Elgar. It is impossible to overstate the magnificence of this musical experience. After the opening cello statement, Yo-Yo Ma leaned into the quiet opening phrases of Elgar’s masterpiece. It created an almost religious air about the music. When the famous dotted rhythms of the primary tune were taken up by the full orchestra, my emotions were stirred to a degree that I wasn’t expecting.

Video:

Elgar:Cello Concerto in E minor Op.85

Conductor:David Zinman Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Cello:Yo-Yo Ma 1994.11.11 Live in Japan


There were multiple elements at work. One, of course, was the architecture of Elgar’s music. The others were my knowledge of the piece and the performance. When you are very familiar with a piece of music, there is an opportunity for a master artist to take your breath away. Yo-Yo Ma made the familiar hit with the weight of a new discovery. I can’t explain exactly how that happens but every now and again it does and it is marvelous.

Sponsored
Sponsored
Video:

P. Tchaikovsky - Symphony No.5, e moll, Op.64

Boston Symphony Orchestra, Leonard Bernstein


If I were to point out one element of Yo-Yo Ma’s playing it would be his ability to play with ultimate delicacy. Many cellists can put the sound of their instrument out to the back row. Many can handle the furious pace of the pitches. Few trust the music enough to play with the gauzy textures produced by Yo-Yo Ma in the lento second movement. This is where Yo-Yo Ma delivered an unforgettable evening.


The concert concluded with Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5. I’ve been chomping at the bit to hear Payare conduct one of the final three Tchaikovsky symphonies. The bond between him and the orchestra is undeniable and this performance was more than I could have hoped for.


In the opening movement, the phrasing of the first violins whipped the tune forward in a way I’ve never heard and it was thrilling, The monumental second movement garnered mid-performance applause and the finale proved that the sonic capabilities of the San Diego Symphony Orchestra are formidable indeed.





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