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.
Argentinean Alberto Ginastera was among the most successful mid-twentieth century composers in retaining the populist accessibility of his early works while incorporating elements of serialism as his style developed. His later works may not have the hummable melodies or propulsive rhythmic drive of his early period, but they have a comparable dramatic logic and emotional directness, which give them an immediate appeal. His two cello concertos, written in 1968 and 1981, are clearly "modernist" works of his late period, but they are warmly lyrical, intensely dramatic, and orchestrated with intriguing inventiveness. In their slow sections, they are also prime examples of the mysterious, gorgeously evocative atmospherics of which Ginastera was a master throughout his career.