The much-anticipated album from a brilliant young American cellist marks one of the most exciting Decca Classics debuts in many years. The conductor Daniel Barenboim has been a fervent supporter of Alisa Weilerstein’s extraordinary talent since he accompanied her in Elgar’s Concerto as part of the 2010 Europa Concert in Oxford, broadcast on TV across Europe. Together, they have made a recording of searing intensity.
Although conceived by utterly divergent characters in lands and times that engender few similarities these days, the cello concertos by Elgar and Myaskovsky make a fascinating coupling due not only to the disparate nature of the composers’ lives and situations, but also, curiously, to the common ground they tread. Both men were in their early sixties when writing what was their only concertante work for the instrument, and the prevailing mood of both concertos is one of aristocratic wistfulness married to a mastery of form and rhetoric. They strike the listener almost as elegies, predominantly ruminant and rarely displaying the cut-and-thrust heroics that are so often an integral part of the concerto genre.
Sir Edward Elgar’s sublime Cello Concerto receives an impassioned new performance from Steven Isserlis, the Philharmonia Orchestra and Paavo Järvi. With additional works by Sir William Walton and Gustav Holst, as well as a miniature suite for solo cello by Imogen Holst, this is unquestionably one of the year’s most eagerly awaited releases.
Daniel Barenboim, the New Philharmonia Orchestra and Jacqueline du Pre deliver lush interpretations of these cello concertos by Schumann and Saint-Saens. The musicians display finesse and delicacy. These are the definitive performances, absolutely a must-own.
The music of Nino Rota is featured on this album with cellist Friedrich Kleinhapl and Philharmonisches Orchester Augsburg conducted by Dirk Kaftan. Rota is a musical chameleon who convincingly conjures Mozart, 19th-century Romantics, or Hollywood. The first of his two cello concertos on the album is a romantic throwback to the 19th century, though written in 1972. Kleinhapl is a perfect choice to perform this work, for his playing is very agile and expressive. His tends to have a thinner, more lyrical style of playing, like a violin, and his bow technique is fluid, moving easily between the strings.