Yo-Yo Ma | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Yo-Yo Ma

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Yo-Yo Ma is probably the most distinctive celebrity cellist since Pablo Casals. Looking owlishly intellectual like the Harvard grad he is, and possessing a most unusual name, Ma's an impresario's delight who fortunately lives up to the hype. He's got impeccable technique, keen intelligence, and an appreciation for musical history. When he plays, his unwavering concentration is palpable. Though relentlessly broad-minded--he's recorded with Bobby McFerrin and donned virtual-reality gloves for computer music generated by MIT's Media Lab--Ma is a traditionalist at heart. Listen to him play a Bach cello suite and you'll grasp its proportionate beauty and the conviction that music transcends all worldy concerns. Two of Bach's suites--numbers 1 and 6--are scheduled for performance in this solo recital. Other facets of Ma's versatile musical personality will also be on display via Paganini's exhibitionist Caprices and a trio of contemporary compositions: Leon Kirchner's For Solo Cello, custom-tailored for Ma in 1988; The Cellist of Sarajevo, British born David Wilde's "lament" dedicated to the people of Bosnia-Herzegovina; and George Crumb's 1955 Sonata for Solo Cello, a modernist variation on Bachian principles, which is likely to be the most rewarding piece of the three. Wednesday, 8 PM, Orchestra Hall, 220 S. Michigan; 435-6666 or 435-8122.

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