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World Music CD Reviews Asia & Far East

YO-YO MA AND THE SILK ROAD ENSEMBLE

By Tom Orr
Published September 27, 2005

Silk Road Journeys: Beyond the Horizon
Sony Classical

Named for the ancient commerce route between Asia and Europe, the Silk Road Ensemble continues to make music rich in the cross-cultural connections of the many peoples and places along that celebrated thoroughfare. Renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma may be at the helm in name but this is definitely the work of an ensemble, and a very crack one at that. Musical styles and instrumentation from across Central Asia and the Middle and Far Easts mix and match grandly and gloriously in short interludes as well as longer meditative pieces. Stringed, percussion and wind instruments carry most of the load (involving  masters like Iranian kamencheh player Kayhan Kalhor and India’s Sandeep Das on tabla) while passages within the music suggest both the movement of travel and—mainly via vocals by such spine-tinglers as Alim Qasimov—stopping to gaze in awe at the wonders along the way. The disc is seamlessly beautiful from beginning to end, a near perfect union of global and classical sounds. Truly a sonic journey you’ll savor and want to take repeatedly.