Debut album by the next young and talented violinist on Deutsche Grammophon, following the successful footsteps of Anne-Sophie Mutter and David Garrett who both joined the label as youngsters.
Making her debut on Decca, Alisa Weilerstein presents three major works of the cello repertoire with Daniel Barenboim leading the Staatskapelle Berlin. The star vehicle, naturally, is Edward Elgar's Concerto in E minor, which Weilerstein plays with commanding presence, rich tone, and emotional depth. Most listeners will be drawn primarily to this performance because of the piece's familiarity, and Weilerstein's charisma and passionate playing make it the album's main attraction. Yet listeners should give Weilerstein and Barenboim credit for following the Elgar with an important if not instantly recognizable or approachable modernist work, Elliott Carter's powerful Cello Concerto. Weilerstein is quite bold to play this intensely dramatic and angular composition, and while it's unlikely to appeal to the majority of fans who adore the Elgar, it deserves its place on the program for its seriousness and extraordinary displays of solo and orchestral writing. To close, Weilerstein plays Max Bruch's Kol Nidrei, a Romantic work that returns the program to a mellow and melancholy mood and brings the CD to a satisfying close. Decca's reproduction is excellent, putting Weilerstein front and center with full resonance, but not leaving the vibrant accompaniment of the orchestra too far behind her.
As a conductor, Daniel Barenboim has had a distinguished history with the orchestral music of Debussy, but this is his first full-album foray into the French composer’s solo piano works. It runs the gamut of Debussy’s Impressionist colour palette, from the shimmering “Clair de Lune”—played with the subtlety and expressive freedom that Barenboim admires so much in Debussy’s own piano-roll recordings—to the restless, swirling prelude “Ce qu’a vu le vent d’ouest.” The simple, hymn-like “La fille aux cheveux de lin,” meanwhile, shines anew under Barenboim’s fingers.