Ahead of a performance of a Beethoven Cello Sonata cycle in Barcelona on 7 March, the cellist reveals her insights on the monumental works

Evelyn Freja 1

Cellist Alisa Weilerstein © Evelyn Freja

Discover more Featured Stories  like this in The Strad Playing Hub

Which Beethoven sonata did you encounter first in your career? 

The first Beethoven Sonata I learnt was op.5, no. 2, when I was about ten or eleven years old. I fell in love with the first movement immediately, as my taste in all music at that age tended to favour the dramatic! 

Performing and recording Beethoven’s cello sonatas is certainly a journey. Do you follow particular themes for each sonata or a narrative as you perform through the cycle? 

I prefer to perform them in chronological order for several reasons, but I particularly love to show how the progression of the sonatas is a condensed map of Beethoven’s evolution as a composer. The first two sonatas are representative of his early period, the third sonata of his middle period, and the last two are the ’gateway’ to his late period. The final fugue in the fifth sonata sounds as if it could have been written yesterday! 

What’s the most challenging thing for you when performing the cycle?  

The most challenging—and satisfying—thing when performing the cycle is really showcasing the endless variety in the music. Exploring Beethoven’s evolution as a composer in this intense, concentrated way is a deeply moving experience, both intellectually and emotionally.

Cellist Alisa Weilerstein rejoins long-time recital partner Inon Barnatan to perform Beethoven’s complete cello sonatas - as heard on their most recent Pentatone release - in Barcelona on 7 March.

Best of Technique

In The Best of Technique you’ll discover the top playing tips of the world’s leading string players and teachers. It’s packed full of exercises for students, plus examples from the standard repertoire to show you how to integrate the technique into your playing.


The Strad’s Masterclass series brings together the finest string players with some of the greatest string works ever written. Always one of our most popular sections, Masterclass has been an invaluable aid to aspiring soloists, chamber musicians and string teachers since the 1990s.


American collector David L. Fulton amassed one of the 20th century’s finest collections of stringed instruments. This year’s calendar pays tribute to some of these priceless treasures, including Yehudi Menuhin’s celebrated ‘Lord Wilton’ Guarneri, the Carlo Bergonzi once played by Fritz Kreisler, and four instruments by Antonio Stradivari.