Weilerstein, MTT close New World season in high style

05.07.17
Alisa Weilerstein
South Florida Classical Review

British music, both gentle and thorny, and a riveting performance of a familiar Beethoven symphony comprised the menu for the New World Symphony’s final program of the season on Saturday night. The brilliant cellist Alisa Weilerstein lit up the New World Center stage with a stunning solo turn in a score by Benjamin Britten many cellists dare not attempt.
Britten’s Symphony for Cello and Orchestra was written in 1963 for Mstislav Rostropovich. Britten conducted the premiere in Moscow the following year. With orchestra and soloist as co-equals, Britten’s work is not a concerto in the traditional manner. This is a craggy, austere yet rewarding score that challenges the technical acumen, stamina and concentration of the solo cellist.
Welerstein attacked the slashing opening chords with appropriate harshness. Her light touch and singing tone brought lift and force to the lyrical melody of the second subject. Even in the cello’s highest reaches, Weilerstein’s sound remained beautiful.
The soloist displayed fine dexterity in the fiendishly difficult Presto Inquieto. Playing short bow strokes at rapid tempo, she breezed through this Paganini-like scherzo and brought richness and depth of tone  to the contrasting, almost romantic secondary theme.
The score reaches its zenith in the third movement Adagio. Over pounding timpani and eerie strings, Weilerstein’s darkly shaded timbre glowed in the elongated solo line. She encompassed both the bravura and dark pathos of  the cadenza that connects the third and fourth movements. Following a standing ovation, Weilerstein gave a flowing, lyrical performance of the Sarabande from Bach’s solo Cello Suite No. 3
 
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