Bach Trios - Yo-Yo Ma, Chris Thile, Edgar Meyer (Nonesuch)
"I think everything is evolving all the time."
That's cellist Yo-Yo Ma. He believes classical music is something like science.
"I think this is a very interesting time where there is great societal permission for things to be explored. But what's being explored is being explored kind of with an audience … so I think there's always an audience that is signaling, we like this, we don't like this. So the more that happens, the more you're inviting … you know, good evolution."
"And many discoveries, as you know, as we've seen, is accidental. So not everything is, oh, you're going to do research in this and you're going to discover that. But it's more like you're curious about all these things and as you do things something will pop out and say, hmmm. Turns out to be penicillin, so … it's a very interesting time."
As a concert soloist and as a musical collaborator in various genres, including his own Silk Road Ensemble, Yo-Yo Ma has been part of the classical musical evolution for decades. His exploration continues with a new recording of Bach Trios featuring the unusual combination of cello, double bass and mandolin. Yo-Yo Ma says he's thrilled to be joined by the genius of Edgar Meyer and Chris Thile.
"They have the imprimatur of genius and I'm not taking it lightly," Ma says. "What I'm trying to say is they both have incredibly agile minds. So that means the fluidity of getting from thought to action to sound is so amazing. Both the content of thinking but also the execution of how to turn an idea into sound."
"It's so joyous to see the two of them at work and for me to participate in that. When we go on tour and are rehearsing the conversations are always interesting and fascinating because Chris is an immensely curious person. There's nothing he's not interested in and if he gets really interested in something whether it's a food group or a type of music he goes really deep into it and again goes into it without judgement. He looks at something, comments on it, and it just keeps growing.
"I think both Edgar and I are really amazed at working with him and obviously now with A Prairie Home Companion, it's another side is being developed it's just fascinating to watch."
When you start to put together any random combination of instruments, what you'll probably discover says Yo-Yo Ma, is the music of Bach provides a common ground, "some composers it's harder to transfer instrumentally because they're writing for certain types of instruments and sounds within the structure of the composition. Whereas with Bach it can become vocal, a wind instrument, a stringed instrument. But in a funny way, the mandolin, cello and bass really sound pretty good together. You have a little feel of that harpsichord kind of thing with the plucking of the mandolin strings and then the bowed instruments have their place within the lines of the music coming out so I think it's an unexpected wonderful blend."
J.S. Bach composed more than a thousand works, so how did Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer and Chris Thile narrow that list down to the 13 familiar works that appear on this recording? "We went through a lot of music and I think Edgar did a huge amount of work - he bought all the works for organ and then we consulted with one of the great — probably THE greatest Bach scholar — who is a wonderful man and a friend, Christoph Wolff. And gradually it whittled down to these but there are many more."
An intentional musical discovery blending the talents of cellist Yo-Yo Ma, with double bassist Edgar Meyer and Mandolin master Chris Thile, on a new collection of Bach Trios.
ResourcesYo-Yo Ma - official site
Edgar Meyer - official site
Chris Thile - Facebook
A Prairie Home Companion - official site
Bach Trios (Pretty Good Goods)