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World Music CD Reviews Asia & Far East

YO-YO MA

By MARIE ELSIE ST. LÉGER
Published May 31, 2006

Obrigado Brasil
Sony Classical

Cellist Yo-Yo Ma continues his musical travels, moving from Europe (baroque and French romantic) to Argentina (tango) to Brazil (samba, bossa nova, choro, classical). Obrigado Brasil finds Ma sharing the mike with composer-guitarist-flutist Egberto Gismonti and guitarists Sergio and Odair Assad, among others. The album could easily have fallen into parity (how many times can “Corcovado” be “reinvented”?), but the cellist wisely avoids obvious choices (including the Antonio Carlos Jobim classic), instead expertly dissecting the music of Gismonti, Villa-Lobos and Jobim/de Moraes. There are familiar tunes of course—Jobim’s “Chega de Saudade” is beautifully arranged by Jorge Calandrelli and well sung by guitarist Rosa Passos—but the less commonplace takes center stage. Villa-Lobos’s “A Lenda Do Cabocio” gets a brisk reading by Ma and the Assad brothers; assisted by clarinetist Paquito D’Rivera, guitarist Romero Lubambo and percussionist Cyro Baptista, Ma does Pixinguinha justice on “1 x 0 (Um A Zero)”; things slow down a bit as D’Rivera’s clarinet adds a melancholic sweetness to Jaco do Bandolim’s choro “Doce de Coco”; pianist Kathryn Scott adds delectable spice to Villa-Lobos’s “Alma Brasileira.” Ma doesn’t hog the spotlight, instead letting Brazil (the album’s real star) shine throug