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Rachmaninov: Cello Sonata in G minor; Vocalise; Chopin: Cello Sonata in G minor; Andante / Alisa Weilerstein, cello; Inon Barnatan, piano

Album Summary

>Rachmaninov, Sergey : Sonata for cello & piano in G minor, Op. 19
>Rachmaninov, Sergey : Vocalise, instrumental arrangement, Op. 34/14
>Chopin, Frédéric : Sonata for Cello and Piano in G minor, B 160/Op. 65
>Chopin, Frédéric : Etude for piano no 19 in C sharp minor, Op. 25/7, CT. 32
>Chopin, Frédéric : Introduction and Polonaise for Cello and Piano in C major, Op. 3
Performers Composers

Notes & Reviews:

Together with long-term duo partner Inon Barnatan, best-selling Decca cellist Alisa Weilerstein records two of the giants of cello chamber music: the Rachmaninov and Chopin sonatas.

Alisa Weilerstein's debut on Decca with the Elgar Cello Concerto (conducted by Daniel Barenboim; his first recording of this outstanding work since his earlier recording with the legendary Jacqueline du Pre) was received rapturously by critics worldwide; and her subsequent recording of the Dvorak cello concerto no less well-received.

Alisa Weilerstein and Inon Barnatan are two of the world's leading instrumentalists, and this album clearly shows the benefits of a long-lasting chamber music partnership with two exceptional musicians, captured in their prime.

The Rachmaninov Sonata in G minor for Cello and Piano premiered with the composer himself playing the fiendishly tricky piano part is Rachmaninov's last chamber music work. One of the first major pieces to be written after Rachmaninov overcame writers block with a course of hypnotherapy, this is a piece to be discovered and treasured.

Chopin's Cello Sonata in G minor is one of the few works Chopin wrote for instruments other than the piano; and the last of his works to be published in his lifetime. Remarkable for its concentration of material, no work of Chopin's gave him more trouble; "I write a little and cross out a lot", wrote Chopin. Alisa and Inon bring out a wealth of feeling in this emotional rollercoaster of a piece.

By contrast, Chopin's Introduction and Polonaise Brillante is one of his first published compositions. Full of bravura and verve, it has an undeniable feel for the spirit of the dance and a distinctive theme. Then Chopin's Etude essentially a nocturne brings a dramatic change of character and mood somber, mysterious dreams (Heller); a song of happiness irredeemably lost (Koczalski).

Two instantly recognizable melodies are included here too: Rachmaninov's gorgeous and reflective Vocalise, one of the most transcribed (covered in pop-parlance) pieces ever written; and a light, airy Andante by Chopin, sure to bring a smile as a refreshing musical sorbet.

When Alisa Weilerstein and Inon Barnatan perform together, audiences are enthralled, critics enraptured. This disc sets a new benchmark for recordings of these great works, and this exceptional quality of music-making is certain to set the bar for a long time.

The New York Times
The pair closed with Chopin s Sonata for Cello and Piano, a work of such fiendish difficulty that even Chopin was convinced that parts of it might be unplayable. Ms. Weilerstein and Mr. Barnatan put that notion to rest with their poise and passion, and they returned amid thunderous applause.

The Boston Globe
Their interpretations were like a series of marvelously expressive close-ups: every note and phrase pinned to an exact emotion, every emotion saturating the frame.

Gramophone Magazine, November 2015
It's hard to imagine many cellist-pianist duos more mutually fond of risk-taking. They certainly don't hold back in Rachmaninov's Cello Sonata, often pushing it to the brink... what emerges is an interpretation in which no single colour outstays its welcome. The same goes for Chopin's Cello Sonata, whose sense of restlessness suits this duo well.

BBC Music Magazine, January 2016
The glorious ebb and flow of melodic material that courses through the veins of the Rachmaninov and Chopin Sonatas seems absolutely tailor-made for a cellist with the flamboyance and intensity of Alisa Weilerstein. In this superbly recorded recital, she delivers one of the most compelling performances of the Rachmaninov I've ever heard...Barnatan brings great musical insight and a marvellous variety of tone to the hugely demanding piano part.

American Record Guide, March/April 2016
We have here a very musical performance, particularly of the gorgeous Rachmaninoff sonata, written when he was recovering gradually from the mental illness caused by the failure of his First Symphony. Written just after the great Piano Concerto 2. In this reading, the relation between the two instruments is remarkably friendly, partly owing to unusual sensitivity between the players and partly because Decca's balance and recorded sound are excellent - warm and clear. Weilerstein is a fine cellist. Barnatan is previously unknown to me and never losing his own clarity. This is a remarkable recording of this great work. It is followed by the lovely Vocalise, Op.34:14, also played with beauty.

Altogether, this is quite outstanding. Considering the surprising duration of the CD you won't go far wrong with it. It gets better after the first movement.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Teldex Studio, Berlin (11/21/2014-11/23/2014).



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Works Details

>Rachmaninov, Sergey : Sonata for cello & piano in G minor, Op. 19
  • Performers: Inon Barnatan (Piano); Alisa Weilerstein (Cello)
  • Notes: Teldex Studio, Berlin (11/21/2014-11/23/2014)
  • Running Time: 35 min. 20 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Written: 1901

>Rachmaninov, Sergey : Vocalise, instrumental arrangement, Op. 34/14
  • Performers: Inon Barnatan (Piano); Alisa Weilerstein (Cello)
  • Notes: Teldex Studio, Berlin (11/21/2014-11/23/2014)
  • Running Time: 5 min. 59 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic

>Chopin, Frédéric : Sonata for Cello and Piano in G minor, B 160/Op. 65
  • Performers: Inon Barnatan (Piano); Alisa Weilerstein (Cello)
  • Notes: Teldex Studio, Berlin (11/21/2014-11/23/2014)
  • Running Time: 24 min. 7 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Written: 1845-1846

>Chopin, Frédéric : Etude for piano no 19 in C sharp minor, Op. 25/7, CT. 32
  • Performers: Inon Barnatan (Piano); Alisa Weilerstein (Cello)
  • Notes: Teldex Studio, Berlin (11/21/2014-11/23/2014)
  • Running Time: 5 min. 28 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Written: 1835-1837

>Chopin, Frédéric : Introduction and Polonaise for Cello and Piano in C major, Op. 3
  • Performers: Inon Barnatan (Piano); Alisa Weilerstein (Cello)
  • Notes: Teldex Studio, Berlin (11/21/2014-11/23/2014)
  • Running Time: 8 min. 33 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Written: 1829-1830