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Cellist Alisa Weilerstein Releases Transfigured Night, First Album in Exclusive Contract with Pentatone

On August 24, MacArthur (“Genius Grant”) Award-winning cellist Alisa Weilerstein releases Transfigured Night, the first recording of her new exclusive, multi-album contract with the Pentatone label, which specializes in high-end, five-channel surround sound. The album also marks Weilerstein’s first collaboration as Artistic Partner (a new, multi-year role) with Norway’s celebrated string orchestra, the Trondheim Soloists, led by Artistic Director and concertmaster Geir Inge Lotsberg. Transfigured Night pairs masterworks of the First and Second Viennese Schools – Haydn’s First and Second Cello Concertos, along with Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht, from which the album takes its title.

Weilerstein has garnered critical accolades in configurations from solo to orchestral with repertoire ranging from Baroque to the present day, and her live performances of Haydn’s concertos have been no exception. On an extensive U.S. tour with London’s Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, her account of the Classical master’s C-major concerto “lifted everyone on the stage to an even higher level of excellence. … She brought to the Balboa stage an electricity, a holy zeal to make every musical idea on the page palpable to even the least engaged member of the audience,” prompting the San Diego Story’s critic to conclude that “I will never again hear this work played so well.” Likewise, it was under Weilerstein’s leadership that Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht was hailed as an “absolutely gorgeous half-hour: a mesmerizing traversal” (Seen and Heard International) at the 2015 Aspen Music Festival.

As the cellist says of the new album:

“Schoenberg fled Vienna in 1934, four years before my grandparents escaped. So, as a young artist, nowhere in my imagination was the possibility of duality and contradiction made more manifest than in the history of that city. A culture that gave birth to some of the greatest achievements in the art form that I had chosen to pursue could, in the same breath, harbor sentiments and sanction behavior antithetical to music’s transcendent promise.

“It might be fitting then, in the spirit of grappling with these odd realities, that this album was conceived in the most “un-Viennese” location: the sweeping white landscapes and rugged fjords of northern Norway. In late April, patches of frozen snow surrounded an 11th-century church where I spent twenty-one hours rehearsing and recording these three pieces with the Trondheim Soloists. Although all three had long occupied the back of my mind as potential recording projects, it wasn’t until last September, when I first had the opportunity to collaborate with these artists, that I knew I had found the ideal partners for an album of this scope and intensity.

“I always considered the chamber music setting as my native environment, and the small orchestra intimacy of the Haydn concerti along with the dynamic range of the Schoenberg allowed the session to feel both big and small. This, coupled with the personal relationship I developed with my artistic partners, made for a uniquely intimate experience. I believe this comes through in the performances that I am thrilled to be sharing on this recording.”

Since the ensemble was founded 30 years ago, the Trondheim Soloists have become one of Norway’s leading chamber orchestras, winning international renown with a sound so distinctive in its Nordic clarity and openness that Classic FM has dubbed it “the Trondheim sound.” Featured on more than 50 albums, the string ensemble has been recognized with ten Grammy nominations and three Norwegian Spellemann Prizes, while its best-selling title – Vivaldi’s Four Seasons with Anne-Sophie Mutter – has sold around 700,000 copies to date. The ensemble has been led by Artistic Director and concertmaster Geir Inge Lotsberg since August of 2017. After launching their partnership with the Pentatone recording, Weilerstein and the ensemble look forward to a Scandinavian tour in early September, with tours of Europe and the U.S. planned for seasons to come.

Weilerstein’s previous recordings include the Elgar and Elliott Carter concertos with Daniel Barenboim and the Staatskapelle Berlin, named “Recording of the Year 2013” by BBC Music magazine; Dvořák’s concerto with the Czech Philharmonic, which topped the U.S. classical chart; Solo, a compilation of unaccompanied 20th-century music that, as France’s ResMusica recognizes, is an “uncompromising and pertinent portrait of the cello repertoire of our time”; and both Shostakovich cello concertos with Pablo Heras-Casado and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, described by the San Francisco Chronicle as “powerful and even mesmerizing.”

For the coming summer and fall, the cellist looks forward to Shostakovich concerto performances with three different European orchestras and at the BBC Proms, a U.S. tour of Dvořák’s Cello Concerto with Semyon Bychkov and the Czech Philharmonic, engagements in the Netherlands and Belgium playing Schumann’s Cello Concerto with the Rotterdam Philharmonic led by Lahav Shani, solo recitals of Bach’s complete cello suites, and much more.

High-resolution photos can be downloaded here.


ALISA WEILERSTEIN with Trondheim Soloists, Geir Inge Lotsberg, concertmaster
Transfigured Night
Label: Pentatone
Release date: Friday, August 24 

Track List:
Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)
Cello Concerto No. 2 in D (1783)
1 Allegro moderato
2 Adagio
3 Rondo. Allegro

Cello Concerto No. 1 in C (1761)
4 Moderato
5 Adagio
6 Allegro

Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951)
Verklärte Nacht (first string orchestra version, revision 1943)
7 Grave
8 Molto Rallentando
9 Pesante grave
10 Adagio
11 Adagio (molto tranquillo)

Alisa Weilerstein: summer and fall 2018 engagements
July 23
London, UK
BBC Symphony Orchestra / Karina Canellakis
SHOSTAKOVICH: Cello Concerto No. 1 in E-flat, op. 107

July 26
Vail, Colorado
Bravo! Vail
New York Philharmonic / Joshua Weilerstein
ELGAR: Cello Concerto

July 31
Aspen, Colorado
Aspen Music Festival
J.S. BACH: The Complete Cello Suites

Aug 3
Aspen, Colorado
Aspen Music Festival
Aspen Chamber Symphony / Jane Glover
TCHAIKOVSKY: Variations on a Rococo Theme, op. 33

Sep 2-4
Scandinavia Tour with Trondheim Soloists
HAYDN: Cello Concertos Nos. 1 & 2
SCHOENBERG: Verklärte Nacht
Sep 2: Vara, Sweden (Vara Konserthus)
Sep 4: Copenhagen, Denmark (Queens Hall)

Sep 14
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Ulster Orchestra / Rafael Payare
Gala Opening Concert
1. STRAUSS: Don Quixote            

Sep 19 & 20
Gothenburg, Sweden
Gothenburg Symphony / Christoph Eschenbach
SHOSTAKOVICH: Cello Concerto No. 2

Sep 28 & 29
Madrid, Spain
Orquesta Nacional de España / David Afkham
SHOSTAKOVICH: Cello Concerto No. 2 

Oct 8 & 9
Lausanne, Switzerland
Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne / Joshua Weilerstein
SHOSTAKOVICH: Cello Concerto No. 2 

Oct 25
London, UK
Duke’s Hall, Royal Academy of Music

Oct 27-Nov 11
U.S. Tour with Czech Philharmonic / Semyon Bychkov
DVOŘÁK: Cello Concerto
Oct 27: New York, NY (Carnegie Hall)
Oct 29: Washington, D.C. (Kennedy Center)
Oct 30: East Lansing, MI (Wharton Center for the Performing Arts)
Nov 1: Ann Arbor, MI (University of Michigan)
Nov 2: Champaign, IL (Krannert Center)
Nov 4: Chicago, IL (Symphony Hall)
Nov 7: Costa Mesa, CA (Segerstrom Concert Hall)
Nov 11: San Francisco, CA (Davies Symphony Hall) 

Nov 9
Beverly Hills, CA
The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts
J.S. BACH: The Complete Cello Suites 

Nov 14
Danish Radio Orchestra

Nov 15 & 16
Copenhagen, Denmark
DR Koncerthuset
DR SymfoniOrkestret / Matthias Pintscher

Nov 18
Penderecki Festival, Poland 

Nov 22-25
Belgium/Netherlands tour with Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra / Lahav Shani
SCHUMANN: Cello Concerto in A minor, op. 129

Nov 22: Bruges, Belgium (Concertgebouw Brugge)

Nov 23 & 25: Rotterdam, Netherlands (de Doelen Rotterdam, Grote Zaal)

Nov 24: Amsterdam, Netherlands (The Royal Concertgebouw)

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© 21C Media Group, July 2018

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