Prom 68, Royal Albert Hall: Yo-Yo Ma's astonishing tour de force

Yo-Yo Ma
The Independent

After Andras Schiff’s Goldbergs and Alina Ibragimova’s oeuvre for unaccompanied violin, Yo­Yo Ma set the seal on the 2015 Proms’ Bach extravaganzas with an amazing two­and­ a­half­hour performance of the unaccompanied cello suites.

In the ebullient third suite all the action was on the surface, but the second had begun with  a  mysterious  Prelude  and  closed  with  a  Gigue  full  of  ambiguity.  At  times  he roughened  his  tone  to  suggest  peasant  earthiness,  at  others  he  achieved  majestic grandeur with double­ and triple­stopped chords. But the glory of this performance lay in the Sarabandes, each of which took its suite to its deepest point; after the Sarabande to the fifth – oracular with its dying fall – YYo sat frozen like a statue, because this had been the music’s heart.

Then this boyish sixty­year­old was off again, encouraging the packed hall to cheer him on for the final lap before playing as an encore the Catalan freedom­song which had been the  trade­mark  of  his  great  precursor  Pablo  Casals,  and  finally  dancing  off  into  the shadows. 

Read the rest of the review here