Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Yo-Yo Ma

  • Classic Yo-Yo [Sony Classical, 2001] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Classic Yo-Yo [Sony Classical, 2001]
Ever since I encountered Ma (on Sesame Street, since you ask), he's been my classical crossover guy of choice. His freedom from smarmy noblesse oblige is typified by his approach to repertoire--he accords bluegrass and tango the same modest respect he does Bach and Tan Dun, never showboating for some ill-imagined gallery. Master tunesmith Bach gets three tracks on this subtly sequenced best-of, New York-raised Astor Piazzolla and bluegrass crossover guy Mark O'Connor two apiece, and even the John Williams ringer sounds OK when Ma is adoring the melody on his rhymes-with-mellow, although the orchestration is to barf at. This is the best of the European humanism the classical elite so often falsifies, reifies, and wills to power--not just beautiful and reassuring, useful attributes these days, but tolerant, curious, democratic. Just like me for giving it a shot. A-