JWR Articles: Live Event - Lucerne Festival Summer (Featured performer: Lynn Harrell, Vladimir Ashkenazy) - April 7, 2010
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Lucerne Festival Summer

3.5 3.5

Written during the 1984 summer Lucerne Festival; rediscovered and published in 2010
Sonatas yield varied results

Of the three sonatas presented, Beethoven’s were a little disappointing largely due to Lynn Harrell’s somewhat strident tone, his ever-nimble bow nearly always hovering around the bridge. However, the ensemble was excellent: there’s no better way than frequent collaboration to raise the “togetherness” bar. What’s more, it was clear that Harrell and pianist Vladimir Ashkenazy were actually having fun with their music making.

They also demonstrated mastery of the “show business” moves in their performance. Harrell generated a real “woof” flourish for his arpeggiated chords. Unfortunately, none of the exposition repeats were taken.

The Rachmaninoff was something else again. Here, Harrell’s tone suited the piece to a T, yet had a little trouble projecting over the piano. The first three movements are especially well written (this was my initial hearing) and artfully rendered. The finale seems to have a lot of trouble finding just the right moment to end. The audience was a little cooler than on previous concerts so we were rewarded with just a bit of Prokofiev as an encore, but then we were force-fed into another—that applause died quickly: enough was finally enough.

One hopes that Harrell might rethink utilizing the same sound production technique with all composers. Ashkenazy’s incredible skill makes one wonder why he went into conducting—we really need more pianists of his calibre. JWR

Between Performances

During the 1984 festival’s 24-day span, a wide variety of non-musical activities was available both in Lucerne and surrounding environs. Because of the excellent local and inter-city transportation system, there’s plenty to see and do within a day’s reach and still be back in time for the next performance—Cultural Tourism at its best! The article below is an update from the 2010 experience.

It’s easy to see why Johannes Brahms (amongst many other composers, artists and writers) spent time in Thun, famously writing the “Thun” sonata there. The landscape-dominating Thun Castle and Museum is as informative as it is the best view in town. JWR

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Featured performer - Lynn Harrell, Vladimir Ashkenazy
Repertoire:
Sonata for Violincello and Piano in C Major, Op. 102, No. 1 - Ludwig van Beethoven
Sonata for Violincello and Piano in A Major, Op. 69 - Ludwig van Beethoven
Sonata for Violincello and Piano in G Minor, Op. 19 - Sergei Rachmaninoff
Further information, future screening/performance/exhibition dates,
purchase information, production sponsors:
Lucerne Festival
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