"Silk Road Journeys"
Traditional music and works of Sharav, Jiping, Mamiya, Ali-Zadeh, Kalher, Azziolo and Dun
Yo-Yo Ma, cellist/Silk Road Ensemble
SONY SS 89782 TT:  78:54 (5 channel)

This CD is the result of a three-year project devoted to music by composers and musicians in China and Central Asia.  Music commissioned from sixteen of these is heard on this CD, recorded in August 2001.  Yo-Yo Ma plays in many of the pieces, along with an assortment of unusual instruments (pipa, sheng, erhu, tabla, ney, setar, santur and kemancheh).  This repertory is not of particular interest to me, but apparently it is to many - you can visit the website (www.silkroadproject.org) to find out more.  Generous playing time, and very well recorded in unobtrusive surround sound; no effort was made to separate performers into discrete channels.  Sony's booklet contains photos of all performers and instruments - and a map of where the music originated - except that in order to see the entire map you'd have to remove the center pages.


WILLIAMS:  Concerto for Cello and Orchestra.  Elegy for Cello and Orchestra.  Three Pieces for Solo Cello, Heartwood.
Yo-yo Ma, cellist; Recording Arts Orch. of Los Angeles/John Williams, cond.
SONY SS 89670 TT:  66:46 (5.1 channel)

This is a superb CD in every way, with John Williams conducting music he composed for his good friend Yo-Yo Ma, the featured work being the half-hour concerto composed in 1994 and premiered at the opening of the new Ozawa Hall in Tanglewood. A detailed review of the regular CD issue of these performances is on this site. I especially enjoyed the rich textures of Heartwood, Williams' music inspired by the grandeur of trees. This surround recording is 5.1 channel made in April 2001.  Sound is ultra wide-range, extraordinarily clear and rather exaggerated in bass—with Yo-Yo right up front, as one would expect.  A reminder that this is not a hybrid CD—Sony CDs can be played only on a SACD player.