Title - 'Chopin & Rachmaninov Cello Sonatas'
Artist - Alisa Weilerstein & Inon Barnatan
Together with long-term duo partner Inon Barnatan, best-selling Decca cellist Alisa Weilerstein has recorded two of the giants of cello chamber music: the Rachmaninov and Chopin sonatas.
Actually, Alisa Weilerstein's debut on Decca with the Elgar Cello Concerto (conducted by Daniel Barenboim; his first recording of this outstanding work since his earlier recording with the legendary Jacqueline du Pre) has already been received rapturously by critics worldwide; and her subsequent recording of the Dvorak cello concerto no less well-received.
If you've never heard of either talented artist, well, shame on you! Alisa Weilerstein and Inon Barnatan are two of the worlds leading instrumentalists, and this album clearly shows the benefits of a long-lasting chamber music partnership with two exceptional musicians, captured in their prime.
Weilerstein was born in Rochester, New York. She started playing the cello at age four. She made her debut at age 13 with the Cleveland Orchestra playing Tchaikovsky's Variations on a Rococo Theme. As a soloist she has performed with a number of other major orchestras on four continents. She also is active in chamber music and performs with her parents, violinist Donald Weilerstein, (the founding first violinist of the Cleveland Quartet) and pianist Vivian Hornik Weilerstein, as the Weilerstein Trio. The trio currently resides at the New England Conservatory in Boston. Her brother is the violinist and conductor Joshua Weilerstein.
Barnatan is a classical pianist living in New York City. He has studied under Victor Derevianko, Maria Curcio and Christopher Elton at The Royal Academy of Music. He often performs works by contemporary composers such as George Crumb, George Benjamin, Kaija Saariaho, and Judith Weir.
In 2014 he became the first Artist in Association at The New York Philharmonic and his most recent solo album, Darknesse Visible was listed as one of the of Best classical recordings of 2012 by The New York Times.
The Rachmaninov Sonata in G minor for Cello and Piano premiered with the composer himself playing the fiendishly tricky piano part is Rachmaninovs last chamber music work. One of the first major pieces to be written after Rachmaninov overcame writers block with a course of hypnotherapy, this is a piece to be discovered and treasured. As is the entire recording, please, of that, have no doubt.
Chopins Cello Sonata in G minor is one of the few works Chopin wrote for instruments other than the piano; and the last of his works to be published in his lifetime. Remarkable for its concentration of material, no work of Chopin's gave him more trouble; I write a little and cross out a lot, wrote Chopin. Alisa and Inon bring out a wealth of feeling in this emotional rollercoaster of a piece.
By contrast, Chopin's Introduction and Polonaise Brillante is one of his first published compositions. Full of bravura and verve, it has an undeniable feel for the spirit of the dance and a distinctive theme. Then Chopins Etude essentially a nocturne brings a dramatic change of character and mood somber, mysterious dreams (Heller); a song of happiness irredeemably lost (Koczalski).
Two instantly recognizable melodies are included here too: Rachmaninovs gorgeous and reflective Vocalise, one of the most transcribed (covered in pop-parlance) pieces ever written; and a light, airy Andante by Chopin, sure to bring a smile as a refreshing musical sorbet.