Music Review: Cello Legend – Masters 2

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imagesPresented by the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra & Adelaide International Cello Festival, a packed Adelaide Town Hall hosted an eclectic mix of music and one very special guest, cello luminary, Lynn Harrell, in the second masters concert, Cello Legend.

“Lone” he was, but “Ranger” he wasn’t, as Ewen Bramble (cello) beautifully opened the overture to the opera of the 13th century Swiss Alps adventure, William Tell by Gioachino Rossini. The wonderful and stirring performance hopefully enlightened some of the first-time concertgoers, who commented they were more familiar with the parody versions. There was nothing cartoonish about the rousing results of Arvo Volmer’s meticulous conducting, as spectators and orchestra alike delighted in the piece, particularly the Finale.

The audience warmed instantly to the star of the show, the charismatic Lynn Harrell. Taking us on the incredible journey that is Witold Lutoslawski’s Cello Concerto he incorporated humour, power, extraordinary technical brilliance, and, as promised, “burning intensity”. The concerto was composed for Lutoslawski’s friend Mstislav Rostropovich; Cantilena, the third of four movements, my favourite for its spellbinding beauty. Volmer’s exacting control of a work of this nature made the feast as thrilling to the eye as the ear.

The next treat was a solo encore by Harrell, Chopin’s E♭ major Nocturne op. 9 no. 2. An equally magnificent (if more freely improvised) version as the Mortlock Chamber performance earlier in the week, there was no dampening the audience reaction, again eliciting audible gasps of delight.

Johannes Brahms took us home with Symphony No 2. From the joyful flashes of Brahms’s Lullaby reshaped throughout the first movement, to the full orchestration and exultant conclusion of the final fourth, one of the happiest symphonies created concluded a fabulous program to hearty applause.

And now, an indulgent observation on etiquette and attitudes. The person responsible for starting the clapping in between Brahms movements was a fascinated and enthusiastic child of about 7 years old who (along with those who joined in) clearly didn’t know it wasn’t the end of the piece. In my personal and humble opinion, classical music reaching a new audience (particularly children!) is not an issue that should be treated with elitist derision (you know who you are).

On a happier note, Volmer presented flowers to Associate Principal bassist Young-Hee Chan with good wishes on her departure from the ASO after twenty years.

Reviewed by Gordon Forester

Venue: Adelaide town Hall, King William Street, Adelaide

Season: 05 April 2014
Duration: 2 hours
Tickets: $20 – $109

Adelaide Symphony Orchestra website

Lynn Harrell website

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