Tuesday, May 13, 2008
There aren’t many real stars among instrumentalists in classical music today. Cellist Yo-Yo Ma is at the top of the list. In a gala performance with Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra last Wednesday night Ma portrayed Cervantes’ demented hero in Richard Strauss’ Don Quixote as convincingly as any dramatized version. We expect beautiful tone and masterful phrasing from Ma. I wasn’t prepared for his depth of humanity in this piece and overwhelming musical acting, portraying the character’s swoons, groans and palpable longing. The Don’s aching idealism ended with a heartbreaking death scene from Ma.