Symphonic Variations, Op. 78
Cello Concerto No. 1 in E Flat Major, Op. 107
Variations on an Original Theme (“Enigma Variations”), Op. 36
In performances marked by intensity, sensitivity, and a wholehearted immersion in each of the works she interprets, the American cellist has long proven herself to be in possession of a distinctive musical voice. An exclusive recording artist for Decca Classics since 2010, Weilerstein is the first cellist to be signed by the prestigious label in more than 30 years.
For her first album on the Decca label, Weilerstein recorded the Elgar and Elliott Carter cello concertos with Daniel Barenboim and the Staatskapelle Berlin. On her second Decca disc, released in early 2014, Weilerstein undertook Dvořákʼs Cello Concerto with Jiří Bělohlávek and the Czech Philharmonic.
In the 2013/2014 season Weilerstein gave the New York premiere of Matthias Pintscherʼs Reflections on Narcissus under the composerʼs own direction during the New York Philharmonicʼs inaugural Biennial. She also collaborated on Prokofievʼs Sinfonia Concertante with Jaap van Zweden and the Chicago Symphony, and on Elgar with Peter Oundjian and the Toronto Symphony; made her debut with the Japan Century Symphony Orchestra; returned to Londonʼs Royal Festival Hall with Kirill Karabits and the Bournemouth Symphony; toured Europe playing Schumann with the Mannheim Symphony Orchestra and Mozarteum Orchestra; and reprised Dvořákʼs concerto with Bělohlávek and the Czech Philharmonic on a European tour that included a return to Londonʼs BBC Proms. Besides serving as artist-in-residence with the Cincinnati Symphony, she had engagements with the Boston, Dallas, Houston, San Francisco, and New Zealand symphonies, and with the Israel Philharmonic. In recital, she appeared at Londonʼs Wigmore Hall on a European tour with pianist Inon Barnatan, at Sydney Opera House and Melbourne Recital Centre, at the Aspen Music Festival, and at the Caramoor International Music Festival, where she served as 2014 artist-in-residence.
To launch the 2014/15 season, Weilerstein joined the Milwaukee Symphony and Edo de Waart for the Elgar concerto. She played Dvořák with the New York Philharmonic and Christoph von Dohnányi; Haydn on a German tour with the Australian Chamber Orchestra; and Shostakovich with Englandʼs Hallé Orchestra, the Warsaw Philharmonic, and the Orchestra of St. Lukeʼs at Carnegie Hall. Other orchestral collaborations included dates with the Orchestre de Paris, Zurichʼs Tonhalle Orchestra, Berlinʼs Konzerthausorchester, the Montreal Symphony, the Czech Philharmonic, Denmarkʼs Aalborg Symphony, Spainʼs Orquesta de Valencia, and the Luxembourg Philharmonic. The 2014/2015 seasonʼs recital highlights included appearances in Boston, Aspen, and the Wigmore Hall, where Weilerstein showcased repertoire from Solo, her compilation of unaccompanied 20th-century cello music, which was due for U.S. release by Decca in late 2014.
Committed to expanding the cello repertoire, Weilerstein is an ardent champion of new music. She has worked extensively with Osvaldo Golijov, who rewrote Azul for cello and orchestra (originally premiered by Yo-Yo Ma) for her New York premiere performance at the opening of the 2007 Mostly Mozart Festival.
Weilerstein has appeared at major music festivals throughout the world. In addition to her appearances as a soloist and recitalist, she performs regularly as a chamber musician. She has been part of a core group of musicians at the Spoleto Festival USA for the past eight years and also performs with her parents, Donald and Vivian Hornik Weilerstein, as the Weilerstein Trio, the trio-in-residence at Bostonʼs New England Conservatory.
The cellist is the winner of both Lincoln Centerʼs 2008 Martin E. Segal prize for exceptional achievement and the 2006 Leonard Bernstein Award.
Shostakovich was indirectly inspired to compose Cello Concerto No. 1 by the cellist Mstislav Rostropovich. When in 1952 he heard him perform Prokofiev’s Symphony-Concerto for Cello and Orchestra Op. 125, in his mind he was conceiving a composition of the same kind for him ever since. He wrote it in the summer of 1959 in just 40 days, and like Prokofiev used the classical form of concerto, allowing the soloist to show off all of his art. The result is one of the most important and most difficult works for cello in concertante literature.
The score is dedicated to Rostropovich, who performed it for the first time on 4 October 1959 with Yevgeny Mravinsky conducting the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra. The concerto contains introspective and autobiographical elements, of which the most striking is the musical motif of DSCH (consisting of the notes D, E flat, C and B natural in German musical notation pronounced as “De-Es-Ce-Ha” = D-mitri Sch-ostakovich). With the exception of the second movement it appears throughout the whole composition and is transposed to G, F flat, C flat, B flat (i.e., it stands out from the frame of the main key). It is heard at the very beginning of the first movement in the cello part and is repeated with the orchestra playing it after in an almost grotesque way.
The second movement is the most extensive and the most cantabile of the whole composition; the third movement has the form of a solo cadenza, but as can be expected, a larger and more autonomous one. The final rondo is played continuously within the ABAC scheme and again employs the DSCH motif, first in fragments and eventually in the full form in the horn part. The concerto ends with coda, rich in effects.
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