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  • Carnegie Hall Presents
  • ZH Zankel Hall
  • SA/PS Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
  • REW Resnick Education Wing
  • WRH Weill Recital Hall

Alisa Weilerstein, Cello
Inon Barnatan, Piano

Tuesday, October 17, 2017 7:30 PM Zankel Hall
URL Copied
Alisa Weilerstein and Inon Barnatan by Paul Stuart
Their interpretations were like a series of marvelously expressive close-ups: every note and phrase pinned to an exact emotion,” wrote The Boston Globe of cellist Alisa Weilerstein and pianist Inon Barnatan. The duo performs Mendelssohn’s impassioned Cello Sonata No. 2 and a new work by Steven Mackey co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall. The two also explore a Russian connection with Britten’s mercurial work, written for cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, and Rachmaninoff’s Cello Sonata, a piece that journeys from anguish to jubilation.

Part of: Chamber Sessions I


Alisa Weilerstein, Cello
Inon Barnatan, Piano


MENDELSSOHN Cello Sonata No. 2 in D Major
BRITTEN Cello Sonata
STEVEN MACKEY Through Your Fingers (World Premiere, co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall)

CHOPIN Largo from Cello Sonata in G Minor, Op. 65

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately two hours, including one 20-minute intermission.

Emerging Israeli artists at Carnegie Hall are supported, in part, by the Sir Jack Lyons Charitable Trust.

Emerging Israeli artists at Carnegie Hall are supported, in part, by the Sir Jack Lyons Charitable Trust.

Lead support for the 125 Commissions Project is provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Additional funding is provided by members of Carnegie Hall's Composer Club.

This concert is made possible, in part, by an endowment fund for young artists established by Mr. and Mrs. Anthony B. Evnin and the AE Charitable Foundation.

At a Glance

FELIX MENDELSSOHN  Cello Sonata No. 2 in D Major, Op. 58

Mendelssohn was a formidable pianist who often introduced his own music to the public. As the director of Leipzig’s venerable Gewandhaus Orchestra, he organized a series of chamber music concerts that provided an outlet for his smaller-scale works. The lugubrious, recitative-like Adagio of the D-Major Sonata contrasts sharply with the lighthearted outer movements, which evoke the composer’s contemporaneous incidental music for A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

BENJAMIN BRITTEN  Cello Sonata in C Major, Op. 65

Written in the early 1960s, this suite-like, five-movement sonata was the first fruit of Britten’s long and rewarding collaboration with the great Russian cellist Mstislav Rostropovich. The work’s edgy lyricism reflects what the composer’s friend W. H. Auden famously labeled the “Age of Anxiety.” At the same time, the music bears the stamp of Rostropovich’s earthy, exuberant virtuosity.

STEVEN MACKEY  Through Your Fingers

A self-professed musical “mutt,” Steven Mackey is known for his imaginatively colored and strongly rhythmic scores that draw on a broad spectrum of popular and classical idioms. He describes his new work for cello and piano as “a dialogue between music that is readily grasped and that which seems to slip through one’s fingers.”

SERGEI RACHMANINOFF  Cello Sonata in G Minor, Op. 19

Rachmaninoff remained an unabashed champion of Romanticism long past the style’s sell-by date in the first half of the 20th century. The lush and impetuously lyrical language that characterizes such early works as the G-Minor Cello Sonata of 1901 remained the pianist-composer’s stock in trade for the remaining four decades of his life. Rachmaninoff’s soaring melodies, richly upholstered textures, and highly idiomatic writing for both cello and piano have given the work a secure place in the repertoire.


Alisa Weilerstein

American cellist Alisa Weilerstein is a 2011 MacArthur Fellowship winner. During the 2017–2018 season, she performs Schumann’s Cello Concerto with the Pittsburgh Symphony ...

American cellist Alisa Weilerstein is a 2011 MacArthur Fellowship winner. During the 2017–2018 season, she performs Schumann’s Cello Concerto with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra under Manfred Honeck and The Philadelphia Orchestra under Christoph Eschenbach; Barber’s Cello Concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Jiří Bělohlávek and The Cleveland Orchestra under Alan Gilbert; and Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme with the New York Philharmonic under Jeffrey Kahane. Ms. Weilerstein also plays a series of duo recitals on tour with her recital partner, Inon Barnatan, beginning at Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center. Additional concerto appearances include Shostakovich with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin under James Conlon, Prokofiev with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra under Jaap van Zweden, Lutosławski with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra under Krzysztof Urban´ski, and tours of the UK in performances of Shostakovich and Dvořák with the Czech Philharmonic under Mr. Bělohlávek.

Ms. Weilerstein’s recent recording of the Elgar and Carter cello concertos with Daniel Barenboim and the Staatskapelle Berlin was named the 2013 Recording of the Year by BBC Music Magazine, which featured the cellist on the cover of its May 2014 issue. Her release of Dvořák’s Cello Concerto with the Czech Philharmonic topped the US classical charts, and her third album—a compilation of unaccompanied 20th-century cello music titled Solo—was called an “uncompromising and pertinent portrait of the cello repertoire of our time” by ResMusica. Solo’s centerpiece is Kodály’s Solo Cello Sonata, a signature work that Ms. Weilerstein revisits on the soundtrack to the 2014 film If I Stay, in which the cellist makes a cameo appearance as herself. In 2015, Ms. Weilerstein released a recording of Chopin and Rachmaninoff cello sonatas, marking her duo album debut with Mr. Barnatan. In 2016, she released an album of Shostakovich’s cello concertos with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra under Pablo Heras-Casado.

Ms. Weilerstein’s career milestones include an emotionally tumultuous account of Elgar’s Cello Concerto with the Berliner Philharmoniker under Mr. Barenboim in Oxford, as well as a performance for Barack and Michelle Obama at The White House. An ardent champion of new music, Ms. Weilerstein has worked on multiple projects with Osvaldo Golijov and Matthias Pintscher, and has premiered works by Lera Auerbach and Joseph Hallman. A graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Music and Columbia University, Ms. Weilerstein is the recipient of the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival’s 2006 Leonard Bernstein Award and Lincoln Center’s 2008 Martin E. Segal Award. Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, she is a celebrity advocate for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

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Inon Barnatan

Inon Barnatan is celebrated for his poetic sensibility, musical intelligence, and consummate artistry. He was the recipient of the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant in 2009, as well as ...

Inon Barnatan is celebrated for his poetic sensibility, musical intelligence, and consummate artistry. He was the recipient of the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant in 2009, as well as Lincoln Center’s 2015 Martin E. Segal Award. A regular performer with many of the world’s most celebrated orchestras and conductors, Mr. Barnatan recently completed his third and final season as the New York Philharmonic’s inaugural artist-in-association, a position created by Alan Gilbert—the orchestra’s former music director—who has described Mr. Barnatan as “the complete artist: a wonderful pianist, a probing intellect, passionately committed, and a capable contemporary pianist as well.” Mr. Gilbert and Mr. Barnatan have since collaborated numerous times, and are in the process of recording the complete Beethoven piano concertos with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, which will mark the orchestra’s first complete recording of a Beethoven concerto cycle.

A sought-after chamber musician, Mr. Barnatan was a member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s CMS Two program from 2006 to 2009, and is still a regular performer on CMS programs at home in New York and on tour. His passion for contemporary music has led him to commission and perform numerous works by living composers, including the premieres of works by Thomas Adès, Sebastian Currier, Avner Dorman, Matthias Pintscher, Alasdair Nicolson, and Andrew Norman, among others.

Called “a born Schubertian” by Gramophone, Mr. Barnatan’s critically acclaimed discography includes Avie and Bridge recordings of Schubert’s solo piano works, as well as Darknesse Visible, which earned a coveted place on The New York Times Best of 2012 list. Mr. Barnatan’s 2015 Decca Classics recording of Chopin and Rachmaninoff cello sonatas with Alisa Weilerstein earned rave reviews on both sides of the Atlantic. His latest album is a live recording of Messiaen’s 90-minute masterpiece Des canyons aux étoiles (From the Canyons to the Stars), in which he played the exceptionally challenging solo piano part with an ensemble conducted by Mr. Gilbert at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. 

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