The Cello Concerto No. 1 by Shostakovich, like so many of his works, suggests an aural diary where innermost worries and dreams have been recorded. The brilliant American cellist Lynn Harrell unlocked those secrets with playing that was extraordinarily incisive and gripping
Once in a generation a cellist makes an irrefutable claim to the Elgar Concerto. For years the piece belonged to Paul Tortelier (onetime Boston Symphony Orchestra principal cellist); the charismatic and tragic Jacqueline DuPre made it her own. And last night Lynn Harrell took possession of the piece and won both the audience’s undivided attention and a standing ovation that recalled him to the stage four times.
Harrell responds both to the famous elegiac element in Elgar and to the robust, sinewy and ruddy-cheeked side, both aspects joined on a long, singing through-line. From the opening gesture, Harrell embraced us and didn’t put us down, gently but with a flourish, until the end. His playing was bold, imaginative, and surpassingly sensitive…fully human and rich in detail
Cellist Lynn Harrell gave an assured and virtuosic performance, rendering the score’s more declarative moments with the same unflagging confidence he brings to Romantic solo repertoire. The crowd’s reception went well beyond the polite applause sometimes given to new scores.
This was a performance of patience and magnanimity, animated when it had to be but chiefly attentive to Schubert's leisurely way of building big statements -- just the right sort for a splendid new concert hall.
The dean of American cellists, Lynn Harrell, joined the [National Symphony] orchestra for Barber’s Cello Concerto, Op. 22….Harrell’s artistry marries elegant restraint, a sensitive musical imagination and commanding technique. This experienced virtuoso drew out the plangent and more agitated passages in the outer movements, while his cello joined in magical conversation with the NSO woodwinds in the touching second movement Adagio.