Yo-Yo Ma has a reputation for embracing many styles of music, but he pared his current favorite recordings down to just five.
This is such a virile and full-blooded performance. Leon Fleisher plays the second theme of the first movement with a classical rhythmic groove that I've never heard from anyone else.
George Szell conducts the Cleveland Orchestra with pianist Leon Fleisher. (Sony Classical 63225)
I studied with Leonard Rose from the age of 9 until I was about 15 or 16. He was such a meticulous artist, and he had a gorgeous, noble cello tone. I think if there is an ideal sound for the cello, he had it. And I know he was particularly proud of this recording.
Leonard Rose, cello; Leonid Hambro, piano. (Sony Classical 89749)
Isaac Stern at his best. There's nothing more to say.
Eugene Ormandy conducts the Philadelphia Orchestra with violinist Isaac Stern. (Sony Classical 64501)
This is a live recording of a concert in Brussels. I've known Sergio and Odair for years, and know what extraordinary musicians they are. I heard them play with their family in upstate New York, and it was such a wonderful concert—the warmth, the love and the virtuosity just roll off the stage.
Sergio and Odair Assad. (GHA Records 126 058)
My friend Edgar Meyer said I absolutely had to hear the mandolinist Chris Thile. What an amazing musician.
Nickel Creek: Why Should the Fire Die? (Sugar Hill 3990)
Is there anything Yo-Yo Ma hasn't tried, musically? Working in genres ranging from romantic concertos to sensual tangos, from Bach to bluegrass to Brazilian samba, Ma has described himself as a "venture culturalist"—criss-crossing several continents and playing ancient Asian music with his band of musicians known as the Silk Road Ensemble.
For a man with a musical appetite as wide as the world, it could not have been easy to pick five favorite recordings. But he did, and he took the time to make a few comments on them.
Yo-Yo Ma's latest recording is 'New Impossibilities' on the Sony Classical label.