It's no insult to describe Ballake Sissoko as the second best (and second best-known) kora player in both Mali and the world, for he is a master musician who is eclipsed only by his close friend and neighbour Toumani Diabate, with whom he recorded that celebrated series of duets, New Ancient Strings. Like Diabate, he's a griot whose music is steeped in ancient west African traditions, and he's also a brave innovator, as shown by this exquisite set recorded with the French cellist Vincent Segal, who plays in the dub/trip hop outfit Bumcello. As the title suggests, there's a more classical mood to this delicate and thoughtful album of (mostly) instrumental pieces, which was recorded with no overdubs in three sessions at Salif Keita's studio in Bamako. It's the work of two musicians from very different backgrounds who seem to understand each other almost intuitively, with passages of stately and then rippling kora work underpinned by sturdy cello lines, followed by a sudden switch, so it's now the kora providing the rhythmic backing as the cello takes the lead. There are occasional appearances by other musicians, with n'goni and balafon players added for Houdesti, and singer Awa Sangho joining the duo for Regret – À Kader Barry. But the best tracks, such as Sissoko's Chamber Music or Segal's Histoire De Molly, are intense and intricate duets on which no other musicians are needed.