Yo-Yo Ma, Kathryn Stott Duet on New Album, 'Songs from the Arc of Life,' via Sony Masterworks

By Ian Holubiak on Sep 18, 2015 01:02 AM EDT

It isn't unexpected or completely otherworldly for some of the classical world's foremost musicians to have life-long collaborators. For cellist Yo-Yo Ma, pianist Kathryn Stott remains not just a collaborator, but a longtime friend--worthy of sharing both a stage and the bill for their new album, released today (September 18) on Sony Classical/Masterworks.

Together, the duo's disc tis aptly name Songs from the Arc of Life. A seemingly intimidating title, actually, the 19 tracks here are more like cadences, respites from their time together that, because life moves so fast, just have not been put to record.

Of course, Ma and Stott are exploring a bit, too, offering new contents to their expansive repertoire.

"I love this title," Stott says, "the 'Arc of Life'--because it is one big arc. Once we arrived at the idea, we began to see a beautiful story, a journey through life's experiences. It has taken us a long time and much discussion, back and forth, to discover what that journey might be, because everyone's journey is slightly different."

While their musical experience on and off stage may be arched in and of itself, these Songs from it are bookended by two beloved traditionals. That is, the Bach-Gounod arrangement of "Ave Maria" and Schubert's more introspective contemplation, respectively.

"I like to think of Songs from the Arc of Life as an invitation to our audience to remember and imagine what the soundtracks of their lives might be," Yo-Yo Ma says. "Kathy and I have talked for years about recording an album of music we absolutely love, pieces that express the context of a life, of our lives. Childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, middle age, old age: what do they sound like?"

Speaking of, ahem, "advanced" age, the disc marks a milestone birthday for Ma, who turns 60 years old this year. He remarks on his passage into the golden years, "Turning 60 has me wondering what the future might bring, but also reflecting on what has passed."

Ma continues, "Kathy and I have known one another since we were in our 20s. We have a shared performing history and thousands of conversations and experiences. We're delighted, through Songs from the Arc of Life, to share them with you."

Orders can be filed through Amazon and iTunes; be sure to stream the album at your next gathering via Spotify and Google Play, as well.

Music for your day: Amazon Music Front Row premieres a live performance of “Lullaby” from “Songs From the Arc of Life.”...

Posted by Yo-Yo Ma on Wednesday, September 16, 2015

1. Bach/Gounod, Ave Maria
2. Brahms, Lullaby
3. Dvořák, Songs My Mother Taught Me
4. Fauré, Papillon
5. Gade, Tango Jalousie
6. Schumann: I. Vanitas vanitatum (from Five Pieces in the Popular Style)
7. Sibelius, Was It a Dream?
8. Fauré, Après un rêve
9. Elgar, Salut d’amour
10. Gershwin, Prelude No. 1
11. Delius, Romance for Cello and Piano
12. Kreisler, La Gitana
13. Sollima, Il bell’Antonio, Tema III
14. Saint-Saëns, The Swan (from Carnival of the Animals)
15. Grieg, The Wounded Heart (from Elegiac Melodies)
16. Tchaikovsky, Valse sentimentale, Op. 51, No. 6
17. Messiaen, Louange à l’éternité de Jésus (from Quartet for the End of Time)
18. Debussy, Beau Soir
19. Schubert, Ave Maria

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TagsYo-Yo Ma, Kathryn Stott, Sony Classical, Sony Masterworks, Songs from the Arc of Life, Bach, Gounod, Schubert

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