When Yo-Yo Ma began work on the Silk Road Project seven years ago, the music world stood by with a mixture of curiosity and skepticism. Why was Mr. Ma, known for his cello interpretations of Bach and Brahms, suddenly jumping on the world-music bandwagon? Would the involvement of musicians from China to Turkey and everywhere in between be some kind of marketing gimmick, a “We Are the World” minus Michael and Tina?… Yet most critics, after due scrutiny, were delighted.
The ensemble has just released an album, “Silk Road Journeys: Beyond the Horizon” (Sony Classical), featuring music from, or inspired by, China, India, Iran, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Turkey. Much of it is a slow burn; thick layers of sound from string instruments – cello, pipa, kamancheh and many others – support spare, floating melodies.
Here is a review of the Silk Road Ensemble’s recent concert in New York.