June 8, 2017

Cellist Alisa Weilerstein lives up to her reputation as “one of the busiest solo cellists in the world” (Washington Post) this summer as she plays festivals and concerto engagements from Berlin to La Jolla, California, with repertoire ranging from Bach Cello Suites to Pascal Dusapin’s cello concerto Outscape, which was composed for her and premiered last year. She joins members of her family for two separate performances: at London’s BBC Proms she gives a rendition of the Dusapin concerto conducted by her brother, Joshua Weilerstein, and she joins her parents and Weilerstein Trio partners for chamber music at the Aspen Music Festival, where she also plays Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 2. With the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra and conductor Vladimir Jurowski she performs Dvořák’s Cello Concerto in B minor; at Tanglewood she plays the Brahms Double Concerto with violinist Gil Shaham under the baton of Giancarlo Guerrero; and at La Jolla’s Summerfest she plays chamber music with frequent recital partner Inon Barnatan and New York Philharmonic principal clarinetist Anthony McGill.

A champion of contemporary music” (San Francisco Chronicle) who has been recognized as one of the foremost interpreters of new composition for her instrument, when Weilerstein gave the world premiere of Pascal Dusapin’s Outscape with the Chicago Symphony in the spring of 2016, the Chicago Tribune raved that her performance proved “the kind of debut most composers can only dream of achieving.” Soon thereafter she premiered the piece in Europe with the co-commissioning Staatsorchester Stuttgart, and this past April played it once again at the Oper de Paris. When she plays the piece for the fourth time, at this summer’s BBC Proms, it will be in keeping with her appearance at last season’s installment of that storied series. After premiering Matthias Pintscher’s Reflections on Narcissus at the New York Philharmonic’s inaugural Biennial with the composer on the podium in 2014, Weilerstein and Pintscher reprised the work with the BBC Scottish Symphony at the 2016 BBC Proms, for which the UK’s Arts Desk remarked, “Advocacy from the likes of Alisa Weilerstein has set the concerto beyond the merely intriguing on the path towards a hold on the repertoire.”

At Tanglewood Weilerstein joins forces with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Gil Shaham, the “impeccable” (Baltimore Sun) Grammy Award-winning violinist who was named Musical America’s “Instrumentalist of the Year” in 2012. The two toured together ten years ago; now they will be the soloists for Brahms’s Double Concerto, the last work he wrote for orchestra and one which is notorious for needing two equally matched and equally virtuosic soloists. Of the many recorded versions of the work, one of the most recent is a disc Shaham made with the Berlin Philharmonic in 2002; there are also two versions featuring the great Russian cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, who was one of Weilerstein’s mentors. On the podium for the Tanglewood performance is Giancarlo Guerrero, who led Weilerstein in Elgar’s concerto with the Cleveland Orchestra in 2014, when the Cleveland Plain Dealer found him to be “an alert and responsive accompanist throughout, rendering the composer’s brilliant and resourceful orchestration with clarity but never overwhelming the soloist’s colorful expression.”

At the Aspen Music Festival the shadow of Rostropovich is again in evidence, because it was in Shostakovich’s cello concertos, of which he was the dedicatee, that he coached Weilerstein when she was in her early 20s. After a chamber music concert of Ives and Mozart with her parents, Donald Weilerstein and Vivian Hornik Weilerstein, the cellist gives an account of Shostakovich’s Second Cello Concerto with the Aspen Chamber Symphony led by John Nelson. Her recording of both Shostakovich concertos on last fall’s Decca release, with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and Pablo Heras-Casado, moved Classical Voice North America to declare her to be “the most outstanding cellist to emerge in America since Yo-Yo Ma.” The same review particularly singled out her performance of the later, more introspective and brooding work:

“Weilerstein’s performance of the Second Concerto is magnificent. She manages the fearsome technical demands with no obvious strain and powerfully conveys the sense of struggling against one’s fate before succumbing to the inevitable.”

To close out her summer season, Weilerstein reunites in La Jolla with her frequent recital partner Inon Barnatan, with whom she played a recital at London’s Wigmore Hall this past spring, and New York Philharmonic Principal Clarinetist Anthony McGill. As a trio, the three toured to nine U.S. cities in January, capped by dates at Washington’s Kennedy Center and New York’s Alice Tully Hall. As the Washington Post declared, “It was a pleasure to hear three singular artists displaying their considerable wares.” Brahms’s Clarinet Trio in A minor was on the tour program, and they reprise the piece in La Jolla. Weilerstein also performs Bach’s Cello Suite No. 3 in C, and along with Barnatan performs Brahms’s F minor Piano Quintet, joined by violinist Michelle Kim, assistant concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic; violinist Eugene Drucker from the Emerson Quartet; and former New York Philharmonic principal violist Paul Neubauer.

High-resolution photos may be downloaded here.

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Alisa Weilerstein: upcoming engagements

Jun 29
Berlin, Germany
Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin / Vladimir Jurowski
DVOŘÁK: Concerto for Cello and Orchestra No. 2 in B minor, Op. 104

July 19
London, UK
BBC Symphony Orchestra / Joshua Weilerstein
Pascal DUSAPIN: Outscape

Aug 11
Boston, MA
Boston Symphony Orchestra / Giancarlo Guerrero
BRAHMS: Double Concerto for violin, cello, and orchestra
Gil Shaham, violin

Aug 14
Aspen, CO
Aspen Music Festival
IVES: Trio for Violin, Cello, and Piano, Op. 86
MOZART: Wind Serenade in B-flat, K. 361, “Gran Partita”
Donald Weilerstein, violin
Vivian Hornik Weilerstein, piano
Joaquin Valdepeñas, clarinet
Per Hannevold, bassoon
John Zirbel, horn

Aug 18
Aspen, CO
Aspen Music Festival / John Nelson
SHOSTAKOVICH: Cello Concerto No. 2 in G, Op. 126

Aug 23
La Jolla, CA
La Jolla Music Society
BACH: Cello Suite No. 3 in C, BWV 1009
BRAHMS: Clarinet Trio in A minor, Op. 114
BRAHMS: Piano Quintet in F minor, Op. 34
Anthony McGill, clarinet
Inon Barnatan, piano

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© 21C Media Group, June 2017