News, Recording Reports

Personal Note from Alisa Weilerstein

Accompanying her debut at NativeDSD, cellist Alisa Weilerstein writes a personal note about the repertoire, ensemble and recording session. An intensely beautiful account of the thoughts and experiences behind this new DSD Release from PENTATONE: Alisa Weilerstein & Trondheim Soloists: “Transfigured Night”

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 artform that I had chosen to pursue could, in the same breath, harbor sentiments and sanction behavior antithetical to music’s transcendent promise.

(..) I knew I had found the ideal partners for an album of this scope and intensity”

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 with you here.

As the final note decayed in the rounded echo of that old church, everything was completely still and everyone completely silent.”

While recording Verklärte Nacht, at the end of a day spent working through details, we concluded with one final concert play-through – a tradition where the fatigue of a long session often outstrips artistic goals. This time, however, it was the most vibrant and focused rendition of the whole afternoon. As the final note decayed in the rounded echo of that old church, everything was completely still and everyone completely silent.

Written by

Alisa Weilerstein

In performances marked by intensity, sensitivity, and a wholehearted immersion in each of the works she interprets, Alisa Weilerstein has long proven herself to be in possession of a distinctive musical voice. As the MacArthur Foundation noted when awarding her a 2011 MacArthur “genius grant” Fellowship, the American cellist “is a consummate performer, combining technical precision with impassioned musicianship.”A familiar face in the world’s leading concert halls and with its foremost orchestras, Weilerstein is one of today’s most sought-after classical artists, whose career highlights include a performance at the White House for President and Mrs. Obama. As an ardent champion of new music, she has undertaken multiple projects with Osvaldo Golijov and Matthias Pintscher and has premiered works by Lera Auerbach, Pascal Dusapin, and Joseph Hallman. Her extensive discography includes Elgar and Elliott Carter concertos with Daniel Barenboim and the Staatskapelle Berlin, named “Recording of the Year 2013” by BBC Music; Dvo?ák’s Cello Concerto with the Czech Philharmonic, which topped the U.S. classical chart; and Solo, a 20th-century compilation featuring the Kodály sonata, which Weilerstein revisited on the soundtrack of If I Stay, a 2014 feature film in which she made a cameo appearance as herself. Most recently, she recorded Chopin and Rachmaninov sonatas with pianist Inon Barnatan, her regular recital partner, and Shostakovich concertos with the Bavarian Radio Symphony under Pablo Heras-Casado.Weilerstein is a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Music and Columbia University. Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at nine years old, she is a Celebrity Advocate for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.


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