Recipient of a 2011 MacArthur â€œgenius grantâ€ Fellowship
, the American cellist Alisa Weilerstein
has long proven herself to be in possession of a distinctive musical voice; the MacArthur Foundation proclaims her â€œa consummate performer, combining technical precision with impassioned musicianship,â€ while the Los Angeles Times
observes simply, â€œWeilersteinâ€™s cello is her id. She doesnâ€™t give the impression that making music involves will at all. She and the cello seem simply to be one and the same.â€
For her debut release as an exclusive Decca Classics artist
, Weilerstein â€“ the first cellist to be signed by the prestigious label in more than 30 years â€“ recorded the Elgar and Elliott Carter cello concertos with Daniel Barenboim and the Staatskapelle Berlin
. The disc has just been named â€œRecording of the Year 2013â€ by BBC Music magazine, which features the cellist on the cover of its May 2014 issue.
This announcement comes as Weilersteinâ€™s second Decca recording, of DvorÃ¡kâ€™s Cello Concerto with JirÃ BelohlÃ¡vek and the Czech Philharmonic, continues to gain praise in the U.S. and abroad following its release in early 2014.
The eminent cultural commentator Norman Lebrecht
also selected Elgar/Carter Cello Concertos as his â€œAlbum of the Year 2013.â€
As he explains,
â€œWhen allâ€™s said and spun, my album of the year is the one from January â€“ Alisa Weilerstein playing the Elgar cello concerto as if no one had played it before
, steering us away from postwar terror and pity into a dawn of golden beauty, and pairing this striking reinvention with modernist nocturnal rustlings in Elliott Carterâ€™s quiet valediction. ... Itâ€™s an album worthy of the best of years.
â€ (Sinfini Music
Weilersteinâ€™s previous career milestones include an account of the Elgar concerto with the Berlin Philharmonic and Barenboim that impressed the New York Times
as â€œincandescentâ€ and The Guardian
as â€œemotionally devastatingâ€; the concert was televised live to an audience of millions worldwide, and subsequently issued on DVD by EuroArts. The cellist was also one of four artists invited by Michelle Obama to participate in a widely celebrated and high-profile classical music event at the White House, where she gave student workshops and performed before guests who included President Obama and the First Family.
A graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Music and Columbia University, her honors include Lincoln Centerâ€™s 2008 Martin E. Segal prize and the 2006 Leonard Bernstein Award. In November 2008, Weilerstein, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was nine, became a Celebrity Advocate for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.