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Elgar/ Carter Cello Concertos

Alisa Weilerstein
Description:
“Weilerstein avoids nostalgia [in the Elgar] and produces instead an account that is full of passion, grief and nobility of feeling...Her interpretation [of the Carter], at once remarkably expressive and a continuous display of headlong, high-pressure virtuosity, seems to me to outrank the existing recorded versions...a thoughtfully-constructed and thought-provoking programme.”
(BBC Music Magazine)

(Decca) 4782735

Track Listing Extract:
Elgar & Carter: Cello Concertos

Bruch: Kol Nidrei, Op. 47
Carter, E: Cello Concerto
Elgar: Cello Concerto in E minor, Op. 85

Alisa Weilerstein (cello)
Staatskapelle Berlin, Daniel Barenboim

Staff Reviews

My relationship with the Elgar Cello Concerto is fickle at best. I find most renditions to be overladen with nostalgia and trite romanticism, but rising-star Alisa Weilerstein, alongside Daniel Barenboim, present a wonderfully refreshing interpretation in this highly-anticipated Decca Classics début. Her tone is beautifully rich, and she does just enough to capture the simplicity and charm of the work, never resorting to over–sentimentality. She’s more sparing with her use of rubato than most cellists, which I find makes for more meaningful an impact when utilised. The precipitous climb to that climactic high E sounds neither thin nor strained, never losing its emotional charge. The Staatskapelle Berlin play with an enticingly dark and warm sound, from the rich sombre E minor chords to a surprisingly transparent vulnerability in the third movement (Adagio). Weilerstein listened to the iconic Du Pré recording “almost as a daily ritual” in her childhood, yet her interpretation is far from derivative, and certainly worthy of a direct comparison.

Elliott Carter's Cello Concerto (2000) is ostensibly an unusual pairing with the Elgar concerto. Regardless, Weilerstein pulls it off with considerable flair, embracing its complex, even schizophrenic nature. From the opening cantilena with the astringent orchestral interruptions, to the dazzling cadenza-like "after-image" following the cascading orchestral chords in the final Allegro Fantastico, I was enchanted by Weilerstein's expressiveness and vast timbral palette. With razor-sharp technique and a musical intelligence to match, she manages to imbue much sensitivity and emotional depth without softening the angularity and rich rhetoric of Carter’s music. A recipient of a MacArthur Foundation "genius grant" in 2011, and already having worked with Mehta, Dudamel, and here, Barenboim, it's clear that I won't be the only admirer eagerly watching on as her career unfolds.

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