April 2, 2020
Alisa Weilerstein’s recording of Bach’s six suites for unaccompanied cello is due for release by Pentatone tomorrow (Friday, April 3). For the cellist, a MacArthur Fellow “supercharged with virtues that speak to the better part of human nature” (The Independent, UK), the album marks her most personal project to date. One of the crowning glories of the classical canon, Bach’s suites have long featured in her programming and have come to play an increasingly central part in her career. Although forced by the COVID-19 crisis to cancel many upcoming live performances, she continues to play and discuss a different movement of the suites each day in her innovative ongoing #36DaysOfBach project. She can also be heard sharing her insights into the first G-major prelude in her recent contribution to Vox’s YouTube series, which has already been viewed more than a million times.
The LA Times called Weilerstein’s Bach “a true model of the meaning of mastery when it comes to what a string instrument is capable of.” The review continues, “The sound might easily have come from her voice, her lungs and her being. … Her command of the cello, of its sound and of Bach, was consummate.” Describing her deepening relationship with the composer’s six solo suites, the cellist explains:
“With their delicacy and nakedness, their strength and restraint, the cello suites present a unique and humbling challenge. After many years telling family, friends, and myself that I would attempt a recording only when I was much older, I decided that what had seemed like prudence was, in fact, a misunderstanding of the suites’ nature. The intrinsic impossibility of this music is the very source of its freedom. I have been living with these suites since further back than my memory can reach, and I have grown with them throughout my life with the cello. Great music is a reflection of life as it is lived, and this recording is a reflection of myself, in 2019, at 37 years old, steeped in and still discovering Bach’s unparalleled accomplishment. It’s the most personal project, I think, that I’ve done.”
Capturing Weilerstein’s complete account of the suites in a professional studio environment, the new album represents a major artistic statement. By way of a counterpoint, #36DaysOfBach chronicles the cellist’s developing engagement with the work from the intimacy of her own home. Launched on March 17, the project sees her play a different movement each day, complete with opportunities for fans to discuss each suite with her in regularly scheduled Facebook Live chats. As Weilerstein says: “In this surreal situation, I want to find a way to continue to communicate through music, even when we are unable to gather with each other in concert halls.”
High-resolution photos can be downloaded here.
Alisa Weilerstein plays J.S. Bach’s Suites for solo violoncello
Release date: Friday, April 3
Suite No. 1 in G, BWV 1007
Suite No. 2 in D minor, BWV 1008
Suite No. 3 in C, BWV 1009
Suite No.4 in E-flat, BWV 1010
Suite No. 5 in C minor, BWV 1011
Suite No. 6 in D, BWV 1012
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© 21C Media Group, April 2020