New Classical Tracks®

Pianist Emanuel Ax makes music with lifelong friend Yo-Yo Ma

Emanuel Ax and Yo-Yo Ma have made music together for more than 40 years, recording dozens of albums and earning five Grammys.Lisa Marie Mazzucco

New Classical Tracks - Emanuel Ax (Extended)


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December 01, 2021

Emanuel Ax & Yo-Yo Ma  — Hope Amid Tears: Beethoven’s Cello Sonatas (Sony) 

New Classical Tracks - Emanuel Ax

“Yo-Yo and I, back in the fall, we're able to do some concerts on the back of a truck. We did 20-minute concerts in various places in parking lots for nurses, teachers and UPS delivery people,“ said pianist Emanuel Ax about performing during the pandemic. “I hope that brought them a little pleasure.

“I've also been practicing a lot, mainly because I wouldn't know what to do with myself if I didn't practice. I have no life. That's what I do. The one silver lining for me was that I didn't have to get nervous every three days before a concert because I tend to get nervous. That was kind of a relief.”

Now, Ax and his longtime collaborator and friend Yo-Yo Ma have released their re-recording of Beethoven’s cello concertos.

Tell us about your new recording, Hope Amid Tears, with Ma.

“Yo-Yo Ma and I have done this going on 50 years. It's a very long time. It's one of the privileges of my life to have been doing this with Ma. I would be a very different person, musician and probably a much lesser one in both cases without that friendship.”

Can you tell us about the first recording of Beethoven's cello sonatas you made together?

“The first recording of those we did came out in 1981, 40 years ago.  Now, 40 years later, we thought we don't have that much time to waste. We better do them now before we get sick.”

Why was it important to do them again?

I'm hoping that we changed a lot of little things. I think ultimately they add up to a big change.”

To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.


Emanuel Ax & Yo-Yo Ma  — Hope Amid Tears: Beethoven’s Cello Sonatas (Amazon)

Emanuel Ax (official site)

Yo-Yo Ma (official site)