Lynn Harrell and Wu Han | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Lynn Harrell and Wu Han 

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Cellist Lynn Harrell is one of those veterans of the concert circuit we more or less take for granted. Since leaving the first chair of George Szell's Cleveland Orchestra in 1971 to go solo, he has established a solid reputation as an avid purveyor of both orchestral and chamber repertoires. Yet despite (or perhaps because of) his all-American lineage and demeanor, he hasn't quite achieved the demigod status of a Pablo Casals or the celebrity of a Yo-Yo Ma. He's certainly capable of Casals's joie de vivre and Ma's intensely radiant concentration; what he seems to lack is that undefinable star quality, the private rapport between a performer and his audience. For this Ravinia recital Harrell has picked as his accompanist Wu Han, a young Taiwanese-born pianist who made her local debut three years ago, aptly enough in Ravinia's "Rising Stars" series (she later played in a John Harbison world premiere). Trained in Taipei, then at Connecticut's Hartt School of Music, Wu Han is noted for her polished dexterity and vibrant style. But one also gets the sense that her thriving career can be partly attributed to her graceful beauty, which seems to be one requisite of 90s telegenic-focused star manufacturing. The three sonatas on Harrell's program traverse the romantic era, from Schubert's Arpeggione Sonata to Debussy's masterly, impressionist Cello Sonata to Rachmaninoff's extravagantly effulgent Sonata in G Minor--all eminently worth hearing. Tuesday, 8 PM, theater, Ravinia Festival, Green Bay and Lake Cook Rds., Highland Park; 728-4642.

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