Lynn Harrell – A Tribute

Last night we learned the sad news that the great American cellist Lynn Harrell has died at the age of 76.

This article from Washington’s NPR gives a good overview of his career, which began with a stint leading the cellos of the Cleveland Orchestra under George Szell in the 1960s and 1970s.

This gave him the springboard to become a solo artist, and he made many live appearances with leading conductors and orchestras, as well as forming a formidable partnership to play piano trios with violinist Itzhak Perlman and pianist Vladimir Ashkenazy.

Harrell’s discography is defined largely by his recordings made for Decca, with whom he had a close relationship, but outside of these he recorded Beethoven and Tchakovsky as part of his trio, a disc of the latter’s Piano Trio in A minor winning a Grammy in 1981.

My own personal interactions with Harrell’s work centre around Bach’s Solo Cello Suites, which he recorded for Decca between 1982 and 1984, and where his excellent recordings opened the door to a lifetime’s supply of musical treasures.

The playlist below offers a glimpse into Harrell’s career, headed by Bach’s Solo Cello Suite no.3 and concluding with the tumultuous Tchaikovsky disc mentioned above. In between we get recordings of Rachmaninov and Dutilleux’s wonderful Cello Concerto Tout un monde lontain, recorded with Charles Dutoit and the Orchestre National de France. There is a Ravel duo with Nigel Kennedy and a rarity, Harrell championing the cause of fellow American Victor Herbert with his Cello Concerto no.2. You also have the chance to hear the cellist in his previous role as section leader in the Cleveland Orchestra, joining Robert Casadesus in a solo role as part of Liszt‘s Piano Concerto no.2.

With thanks for some wonderful music making…