Yo-Yo Ma is one of the world's most celebrated musicians, his name one of the most recognizable. To wit: he played for millions of people at Obama's inauguration, and has won tons of hardware (like fifteen Grammy awards.)
So of course, the rock star, if you will, was able to sell out Davies Symphony Hall last week for a series of concerts as part of the Project San Francisco artist-in-residence program. He is playing tomorrow for a special recital with another superlative performer: Manny Ax.
We attended his performance of the Shostakovich Cello concerto No. 2, and, surprisingly, came away unimpressed. Part of the reason is that we prefer the Cello concerto No. 1, much more vigorous and haunting than the second; and part of it is that this performance seemed a tad under-rehearsed. Ma was playing with the score -- and even then he almost stepped in one bar two early in the second movement. Oops.
The artist-in-residence thingy imposes a wide range of program on the performer (this concerto, the recital, a Brahms double concerto and some chamber music) and there's only so much time to sync everything up with the orchestra.