This is as close to an ideal lineup for a chamber recital as they come: one of the most accomplished cellists of our time teaming up with a superlative pianist and joined, in one work, by a virtuoso orchestra principal. Yo-Yo Ma is a mesmerizing performer, bowing the cello passionately and coaxing a mellow yet disciplined sound from it. Over the years his onstage congeniality boosted his appeal to the under-40 crowd; now a tad over 40 himself, Ma’s one of the handful of classical music’s genuine stars who can pack ’em in just about everywhere in the world. (His mix of charm and acumen is matched these days only by violinist Itzhak Perlman, who will be Ma’s partner in Brahms’s Concerto for Violin and Cello in this week’s Chicago Symphony Orchestra subscription concerts.) The CSO, sparing no expense to inaugurate its newly renovated house, has brought Ma in for a two-week stay. But the real coup here is to have him accompanied by Daniel Barenboim on Brahms’s cello sonatas. The CSO maestro’s familiarity with those two gems from the chamber canon dates back to the 60s, when he and his wife Jacqueline du Pre surveyed them with youthful elan and uncommon wisdom, largely realizing the maturation of Brahms’s style and outlook between the first (written at age 32) and the second (53). Ma and Barenboim are both given to spontaneity and the combustible chemistry of partnership; I fully expect them to click here. The CSO’s Larry Combs, who joins them for the warm, pastoral Clarinet Trio from Brahms’s autumnal phase, is an ace on his instrument and sure to enliven the sonata’s moody, long-breathed lyricism. Sunday, 3 PM, Orchestra Hall, 220 S. Michigan; 294-3000.


Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Yo-Yo Ma photo by J. Henry Fair/second uncredited photo.