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Mark O’Connor is a virtuoso on both violin and fiddle—different names for the same instrument as applied respectively to classical and country music. On his latest album “Crossing Bridges,” his Appalachia Waltz Trio, also starring violist Carol Cook and cellist Natalie Haas, does exactly that in extending the classical-country crossings he created with cellist Yo-Yo Ma and double bassist Edgar Meyer on the 1996 “Appalachia Waltz” and 2000 “Appalachian Journey” albums.

Most of the “Crossing Bridges” material, in fact, originated in those previous sets, with O’Connor’s younger associates bringing their own verve to the recording, which was taped live in concert last May at Clayton College and State University in Morrow, Georgia. Especially lovely is O’Connor’s popular “Appalchia Waltz,” the 1993 composition that gave rise to the two O’Connor-Ma-Meyer projects.

“Old Country Fairy Tale” is noteworthy too, as it illustrates what O’Connor calls the “common symmetry” between the classical and folk musical forms by incorporating a hornpipe, waltz and jig into the fast-slow-fast classical concerto progression. In another spritely example of such symmetry, O’Connor grafts a cello part onto the classic fiddling hoedown “Limerock.” The end product is a novel fusion of the two seemingly disparate elements into true Americana. / Issue 45 - September 2018
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