Posted by: viewfromtheriva | August 19, 2012

The 2 Cellos, not even one Yo Yo Ma

The 2 Cellos

The 2 Cellos, a souped-up Croatian cellist duo that won fame and fortune when they were discovered by Elton John, who invited them to open for him on his world tour and then cut a cool record deal with Sony Classics came to Split last night for a free concert as part of the city’s Days of Diocletian festival.

But the razzle-dazzle stage and souped-up sonics weren’t  enough to impress me–clearly they could play, but wired up to a zillion volt sound system, backed by a drummer and special effects, all that came across was a tired series of covers played with thunder and lightning.

It was painful to listen to their cover of Hendrix classic Purple Haze.  Trying to finger pick the notes on a cello just ain’t the same as Jimi doing it.

I mean it’s one thing to take an acoustic guitar and electrify it, but a cello?  What’s the point–unless you amplify the hell out of it.  Then you can play any note, miss a ton of notes, whack that bow across the strings and create a wall of noise.

The flip side is what a cello artist like Yo Yo Ma can do– not only play the classics, but his modern jazz/tango/original music takes the cello to places it has never been. And he doesn’t need all those supercharged amps to dazzle you.

Or Kronos Quartet, for example, who can also perform a brilliant Beethoven piece, but when they venture into the weird (which they do on every album) their astonishing originality is MUSIC not electric thunder and lightning created by bowing as fast as you can and then trying to imitate a bottle neck guitar with your fingers.

Showmanship, sure.  But when I asked some friends who were there if they would they pay $100 a pop to see them live, they all answered no.  And none of them owned or would buy their albums either.

The enormous crowd surely had a great time….but it was free, loud and the 2 Cellos came with so much hype, not to be there was to really be square.

Maybe these two guys will have the guts to do more experimental, original music, but loud and fast covers becomes repetitive after the second number.

What ever happened to Vanessa Mae?


  1. yoyo ma is an amazing cellist, but the 2 cellos (obviously not as good) were both classically trained at prestigious music colleges.. they both worked EXTREMELY hard to get where they are today practicing for over 5 hours every day so don’t put them down just because they play popular music now.

    • Clearly they are talented, but with all the hype and hoopla, their music is simply not worth all the noise. I recently saw a video of them performing with the Zagreb philharmonic and the milked every note of a pop piece as if it was Dvorjak. Their over commercialism just seems way too intentional for me. It’s tough being a cellist–the only real jobs are with orchestras and finding one with open seats for a cellist is daunting. So you make your own quartet or quintet, play weddings, do what you can to keep your dream alive. These two guys found a niche and made their mark–good for them. But it’s a niche–of course they learned on the classics–the cello is not a pop instrument. And of course they will still have to play classical pieces. But getting under 25 year olds to come to an all classical concert is not the same as what they are doing. When a classically trained pianist decides to do jazz or some other free form kind of music, I appreciate that a lot more. Which is why Yo Yo Ma and Kronos are so rare. The 2 Cellos are just not in their league and promoting them like they are world-class artists somehow seems like a lot of their music–over-produced, over-hyped. Not over-exciting.

  2. Yo Yo Ma and the 2Cellos are not meant to be placed sort of competition to satisfy the “likes/dislikes” approval mentality. Yo Yo Ma is a master of classical music although I’ve seen some appearances surface with the likes of Santana and rocking out to Led Zeppelin. The 2Cellos are breathing new life in a very board with it audience, sick and tired of auto-tune crap by the flavor of the week. Let’s give them some room.

    • They have plenty of room already…..just am not a fan of their covers and gushy overly produced and mannered performances. They have their audience, it’s just not me. No comparisons really needed…’s only because I have heard such comparisons. They clearly love the commercial aspect of the lush life. I mean now they are even on billboards modeling clothes. As performance artists, they put on a great show.As musicians, clearly professionally trained but not really interested in exploring their talent any further than doing over the top arena shows with lots of flash to get lots of cash.

  3. Jealousy breeds negativity. If you criticize do your home work.

    • Hmmm, no jealousy here. Just opinion. Chamber music is very different than stadium events.

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