As a cultural ambassador to the world, Yo-Yo Ma has immersed himself in the native music of many countries and taken away charming souvenirs of his musical explorations that he shares openly and without affectation.
The chief characteristic of Ma's approach is his showcasing of other talents, with a modesty and generosity on his part that makes these performances all the more appealing.
In Obrigado Brazil, Ma shares the spotlight with musicians of the highest caliber, including bossa nova singer Rosa Passos, guitar duo Sergio and Odair Assad, clarinetist Paquito d'Rivera, pianist Kathryn Stott, and percussionist Cyro Baptista, among many other stars.
All the performers display deep feeling, energy, and conviviality, no doubt inspired by Ma's infectious goodwill and openhearted playing.
Whether he engages the listener with popular numbers, such as the songs of Antonio Carlos Jobim and Pixinguinha, or with more classically tailored pieces by Heitor Villa-Lobos, Camargo Guarneri, and Egberto Gismonti, Ma offers a broad sampling of Brazil's diverse musical styles.
From sorrowful choros to lively sambas, the spectrum of the country's music is well represented, and there is something here to please any armchair traveler.
Sony's recording is excellent, with special attention directed to capturing instrumental color.