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Musical Discussions
Topic: Mendelssohn, Cello Sonata #2 (in D), Op 58

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Posted by Paul S on 10-11-2008
Lynn Harrell, cello; James Levine, piano.  RCA/Time-Life, 1978; stereo, STL561-2G

I am not familiar with Lynn Harrell, but I now aim to correct my lamentable oversight.

Here, both Harrell and Levine play individually and ensemble with great wit and charm.  Harrell's instrument is lovely, and with it he makes the most interesting texture I have ever heard from a cello, using the bow, of course, but also his fingering, his draw, per se, and, I imagine, his body on the instrument.  Early on, the work seems a tiny bit constrained, which I initially attributed to the cello itself being somewhat limited dynamically.  Later this proved not to be the case, and when Harrell does begin to belt it out it becomes immediately obvious that he has deliberately stayed within self-determined bounds up to that point.  Likewise, the early piano contra is primarily rhythmic, but it, too, loosens up as the piece is developed, and as the fluidity of the verse is developed.

I enjoy this type of music, which is a sort of large-scale parlor (or exhibition) piece of the sort often penned by the well-connected artists of the day, typically written for/dedicated to well-heeled courtiers who owned and/or patronized halls sufficient for the pieces in question.  Needless to say, Mendelssohn had entre, whither he would go.

Anyway, I highly recommend this piece.

I would appreciate info and/or tiips on Harrell, in particular, and also any tidbits about his cello.

Paul S

Posted by Romy the Cat on 10-12-2008

Well, Lynn Harrell is unquestionably is in the pantheon of the greatest alive cellists, right along with Mischa Maisky, Yo Yo Ma, Natalia Gutman, Truls Mork, Maria Kliegel, Janos Starker (still alive? still playing?)  I think he is worth to peruse. Not all that he did was “great” (like with any other artists) but he has he “successes”. Make sure that you heard the Harrell’s play of the Victor Herbert’s Cello Concerto No. 2…

The Cat

Posted by mats on 10-13-2008
Ophelie Gaillard has recorded a very good Bach set,
and her Britten recordings are also quite excellent.
WRT to her Bach, I find it somehow related to the
second Maisky in heartfulness and spirit.


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