Sunday, January 30, 2011

Champion Cellists on the Move

This past week, Davos chattered as Egypt burned. Stock markets shuddered, and high ranking government officials worldwide issued statements and proclamations that were promptly ignored in the streets of Cairo. Hedge funds shorting oil were clobbered when petroleum prices surged, and the dollar rose as it took on its customary role as a refuge in times of crisis. The Euro, too close to the restiveness, fell back. None of this was entertaining.

More entertaining are the live performances by some champion cellists. They don't merely play notes. They squiggle, squirm, grin, frown, look around, roll their eyes and hug the instrument. Here are four of the finest, each playing the rousing third movement of Haydn's Cello Concerto No. 1.

Yo Yo Ma seems to scan the balconies for good-looking women. He must have seen some, because he delivers an inspired performance.

Han Na Chang, a Korean prodigy who has blossomed into one of the world's best cellists, bounces, frowns, purses her lips, puffs up her cheeks, and grins from coast to coast. She is one happy cellist.

Julian Lloyd Webber, brother of impressario Andrew Lloyd Webber, is one of the doyennes of Britain's cellist community. Here he is, in vaguely Medieval costume, playing brilliantly while flicking some lint off his left hand and occasionally flashing the whites of his eyes.

Mstislav Rostropovich demonstrates, however, that one need not squiggle all over the stage to play masterfully. He simply hugs the instrument, juts his jaw, and delivers a performance worthy of a maestro.

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