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Joshua Bell :

Heartland


The likes of Yo-Yo Ma, Sam Bush, Edgar Meyer, Joshua Bell, and Mark O'Connor can be heard on Heartland, a compilation featuring the best tracks from Sony's ongoing Appalachian-themed series of CDs. Individually, these folk and classical stars have little in common, but when they meet to play these new bluegrass-meets-chamber-music arrangements, the results are pure magic. It's hard to pinpoint these Americana-tinged tunes--they could fit in either Carnegie Hall or a grange hall--but they're all great; this is as much Aaron Copland's version of roots music as it is Bill Monroe's. Whether on fast-and-furious breakdowns such as "Death by Triple Fiddle" or on mellow, almost New Agey instrumentals such as "Sliding Down" (featuring Bela Fleck on the banjo), these musicians excel. Guest vocals by James Taylor and Alison Krauss break up the instrumentals, though instrumental virtuosity is the real highlight of this disc. If you like what you hear on this sampler, check out the Grammy Award-winning Appalachian Journey next.
--Jason Verlinde