- Shostakovich's Politically-Charged Symphony No. 7 Comes to Life at Canellakis' Baton
- OPUS 3 WELCOMES CHOPIN INTERNATIONAL COMPETITION WINNER SEONG-JIN CHO
- Sitar virtuoso Anoushka Shankar sounds a searing cry against injustice in new Deutsche Grammophon album, LAND OF GOLD
- Classical music: Canellakis triumphs again as last-minute Dallas Symphony sub
Dallas Morning News
- Chanticleer's Over the Moon shines at Society of the Four Arts
Palm Beach Daily News
David Robertson, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra
- Walt Disney Concert Hall Performance Combines Modern Music with Breathtaking National Park Images
ABC 7 Eyewitness News Los Angeles
- From Football To Opera: Singer Morris Robinson Takes Center Stage
Katia and Marielle Labeque
- World-Famous Piano Duo: The Labeque Sisters
- SUPREMELY GIFTED PIANIST OF THE NEW GENERATION
- Milwaukee Symphony concert a happy marriage of passion and precision
Yo-Yo Ma takes over where Rostropovich left off
The Globe & Mail
On Saturday night the Toronto Symphony Orchestra presented an all-Russian program, in honour of a Russian who was not there.
Mstislav Rostropovich, the greatest cellist of the post-Second World War era, and also a distinguished conductor, was originally scheduled to lead the TSO.
But his death, just over a year ago, put an end to that plan. The TSO turned the event into a tribute, programming Shostakovich's Cello Concerto No. 1 (originally written for Rostropovich), and also Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4. And a fitting tribute it was, thanks to guest soloist Yo-Yo Ma - who, it's fair to say, has now inherited the crown of World's Foremost Cellist.
The Shostakovich was a tour de force. Technically, Ma took everything the gruelling score threw at him in his stride: flying bravura figures, huge leaps and dense chords. Not even the eerily stratospheric harmonics of the second movement seemed to cause any problems.
Even more astonishing was his rich and surefooted interpretation. Some musicians think Shostakovich should be relentlessly bleak - but in Ma's hands the concerto was also tender, noble, ironic, angry and more. As well, it was apparent that there was a grand architectural scheme at work: Even in passages when the notes seemed to be furiously going nowhere (a Shostakovich trademark), his carefully constructed phrasing gave the piece a forward momentum and rhetorical grandiloquence.
Throughout, Ma's Stradivarius cello projected clearly above the orchestra, to the credit of both soloist and conductor. From the podium, conductor Peter Oundjian masterfully controlled the tricky balances inherent in this piece, limiting his fortes to bright interjections and controlling his orchestra at other times to give Ma the foreground. Also praiseworthy were the solos played with conviction by the TSO's principal (and, in this piece, only) hornist, Neil Deland.
Following the concerto, Ma spoke from the stage: He said a few words about Rostropovich, and also mentioned Toronto's Music Garden (on Queens Quay, between Bathurst Street and Spadina Avenue), which Ma helped to design. As an encore, he played the Prelude from Bach's Suite for Cello No. 1 - all sweetness and light after the dark, complex sound-world of Shostakovich.