It is hard to overstate 30-year-old cellist Alisa Weilerstein’s musical achievements. In 2011, she was named a MacArthur fellow, aka “genius,” for her accomplishments as a musician and as an “advocate for contemporary music.” She is constantly in demand, performing, giving master classes, rehearsing, and recording with the world’s best orchestras. And she’s just released an album on Decca Classics—the first time the label has signed on a cellist in over 30 years. The CD, Elgar, Carter: Cello Concertos, features concertos by Edward Elgar and Elliott Carter along with Max Bruch’s Kol Nidrei and is conducted by Daniel Barenboim and performed with the Berlin Staatskapelle.
The last few weeks have been particularly tumultuous for her, with the last-minute cancellation of her Carnegie Hall concert because of the danger posed by a crane dangling above the concert hall as a result of Hurricane Sandy, and then the death, at age 103, of Carter, whom she greatly admired. And then there was last week’s last-minute invitation, which she accepted, to play Brahms with the New York Philharmonic, stepping in for the principal cellist, Carter Brey.
Still, she made time to come to the studio, cello in hand, to talk about the new CD and her work with Barenboim, to remember Elliott Carter, and to play, quite beautifully, two movements from Bach’s Cello Suite in C Major. [Running time: 27:45.]