Press Room

Alisa Weilerstein Releases Beethoven Cello Sonatas on Pentatone with Pianist Inon Barnatan (May 6); Tours with National Youth Orchestra

“The American cellist plays as if she were dreaming up the music on the spot, with a fluidity and passion that induces goose pimples.”
– Financial Times

(May 2022)—Following up on her acclaimed Pentatone recording of Bach’s Six Unaccompanied Cello Suites in 2020, this spring Alisa Weilerstein—also the subject of a May 2022 Gramophone cover story—is joined by her longtime recital partner, pianist Inon Barnatan, for a new album of Beethoven’s complete Cello Sonatas, works that have been a staple of the duo’s repertoire since they began performing together in 2008. After a digital release on May 6, the physical album will be released in June. The cellist’s remaining spring performances include the DC premiere of Grammy Award-winning composer Joan Tower’s new cello concerto, A New Day, with the co-commissioning National Symphony and Louis Langrée (May 19–21); Strauss’s Don Quixote with the San Francisco Symphony under the baton of Karina Canellakis (May 13–15); and Elgar’s Cello Concerto with the San Diego Symphony, led by her husband, conductor Rafael Payare (May 27 & 28). This summer, Weilerstein looks forward to playing the Elgar in Carnegie Hall and on a subsequent European tour with the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America led by Daniel Harding (July 28–Aug 10).

Longtime friends and collaborators, Weilerstein and Barnatan recorded their first album together—comprising cello sonatas by Rachmaninov and Chopin—in 2015, and most recently the cellist appeared on Barnatan’s 2019 recording of Beethoven’s Triple Concerto, part of his complete set of Beethoven concertos on Pentatone. As Gramophone said of the duo after the release of their debut album together: “It’s a bold musician who dares to duet with Alisa Weilerstein. So much is out of the question: complacency, clichés, safety nets. … Inon Barnatan fits the bill … it’s hard to imagine many cellist-pianist duos more mutually fond of risk-taking.”

Composed over a span of nearly twenty years, Beethoven’s five cello sonatas provide a fascinating snapshot of the composer’s stylistic development. Weilerstein explains:

“Diving into the formidable project of recording these touchstone works with Inon, especially at such a fragile, chaotic time, was an immensely rewarding experience. I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to go on this unique adventure with such a wonderful partner and friend, and I invite you to join us in our celebration of this profoundly moving music.”

For Barnatan, the cello sonatas are the perfect reflection of his partnership with Weilerstein:

“As we move toward the third sonata and beyond, the cello and piano become … truly equal partners. This equal partnership is a central aspect of how Alisa and I make music together, and all five sonatas have been a part of our musical journey together from the very beginning. We love their beauty, their sense of adventure, and the way they communicate directly but with intricacy and complexity.”

Already the dedicatee of cello concertos by Pascal Dusapin and Matthias Pintscher, Weilerstein gave the world premiere performance of a third, Joan Tower’s A New Day, under the baton of Peter Oundjian at the co-commissioning Colorado Music Festival last summer. She has reprised the work with two of the other three co-commissioners, the Cleveland Orchestra and Detroit Symphony, and performs it in May with the third, the National Symphony under the baton of Louis Langrée. found the concerto to be “tailor-made to Alisa Weilerstein’s many strengths as a soloist,” while after the Colorado premiere, Sharps and Flatirons raved:

“Weilerstein performed with a focus that was evident in both the intensity of her playing, and visually as she felt the complex passages of her part. This was virtuosity at a high level, a performance totally dedicated to the music at hand. Tower could not have wanted more effective advocates for her new work.”

Edward Elgar’s sole Cello Concerto has long been a fixture of Weilerstein’s repertoire, and she memorably performed the work on a widely-praised 2012 album with Daniel Barenboim leading the Staatskapelle Berlin. This summer she plays it in Carnegie Hall and on tour to summer festivals in Amsterdam, Berlin, Naples and Lucerne with the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America (NYO-USA), a project of Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute that brings together the brightest young players from across the country in a free program for all participants. She elaborates:

“It’s wonderful to work with an orchestra full of young talent and to come out of COVID renewing my longstanding relationship with Carnegie Hall. Going on a tour with these young people to so many halls and great venues is an experience I very much look forward to.”

High-resolution photos can be downloaded here.

Alisa Weilerstein: spring-summer 2022 engagements

May 13–15
San Francisco, CA
Davies Symphony Hall
San Francisco Symphony / Karina Canellakis
STRAUSS: Don Quixote

May 19–21
Washington, DC
Kennedy Center Concert Hall
National Symphony Orchestra / Louis Langrée
JOAN TOWER: A New Day, Cello Concerto (DC premiere of NSO co-commission)

May 27 & 28
San Diego, CA
The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park
San Diego Symphony / Rafael Payare
ELGAR: Cello Concerto in E minor, Op. 85

June 22
Heilbronn, Germany
Harmonie Heilbronn, Theodor-Heuss-Saal
Württemberg Chamber Orchestra Heilbronn / Case Scaglione
LIGETI: Concerto for Cello and Orchestra
HAYDN: Concerto for Cello and Orchestra in C major Hob.VIIb: 1

July 13–14
Joliette, QC, Canada
Le Festival de Lanaudière
July 13:
BACH: Suites 1, 2, & 3
July 14:
BACH: Suites 4, 5 & 6

July 28–Aug 10
Tour with National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America / Daniel Harding
ELGAR: Cello Concerto in E minor
July 28: Purchase, NY (Performing Arts Center at Purchase College)
July 29: New York, NY (Carnegie Hall)
Aug 2: Amsterdam, Netherlands (Concertgebouw)
Aug 5: Berlin, Germany (Konzerthaus Berlin)
Aug 7: Naples, Italy (Ravello Festival)
Aug 10: Lucerne, Switzerland (KKL Luzern, Concert Hall)

Aug 19
Aspen, Colorado
Benedict Music Tent
Aspen Chamber Symphony / Roderick Cox
SAINT-SAËNS: Cello Concerto No. 1 in A minor, Op. 33

# # #

© 21C Media Group, May 2022


Return to Press Room