Review: LSO/Heras-Casado/Weilerstein - bright and rewarding

Alisa Weilerstein
The Guardian

After the boundary pushing of its recent Debussy and Dutilleux performances under Simon Rattle, the programming of this latest London Symphony Orchestra concert – an overture, a concerto and a symphony – had a distinctly traditional feel. But the Spanish conductor Pablo Heras-Casado and the US cellist Alisa Weilerstein are very much artists of today, and in their hands the old formula emerged as bright and rewarding as ever.

No orchestra in the world has a longer association with the Elgar cello concerto than the LSO, and Weilerstein’s account of the composer’s iconic late period work was the centrepiece of the evening. From first to last, though, her playing possessed a freshness and authority very much of its own, to which the rapport with Heras-Casado’s restrained control of the orchestra greatly contributed. Weilerstein rode the changing moods with eloquence and assurance, mesmerisingly so in some of the fastest passages, but she was always alive to dynamic contrasts and intimate inflections of phrase. The most striking aspect of a highly convincing account was the way Weilerstein managed to keep the balance between Elgar’s reflectiveness, which can sometimes swamp the work, and the composer’s very practical determination to press on.
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