Leah Hollingsworth hears the cellist’s account of Prokofiev’s Sinfonia concertante op.125 at David Geffen Hall on 24 February 2023


Alisa Weilerstein and Nathalie Stutzmann. Photo: Chris Lee

Alisa Weilerstein (cello) New York Philharmonic/Nathalie Stutzmann

David Geffen Hall 24 February 2023 

Opening this concert, conducted by Nathalie Stutzmann, was Wagner’s Tannhäuser Overture, which began in an understated manner but grew in depth with the entry of each section and gave way to sensuous playing from the lower strings and a splendid first desk duet.

Alisa Weilerstein’s authoritative, powerful playing was captivating in Prokofiev’s challenging Sinfonia concertante op.125. She navigated the sheer range of the work with ease and confidence, her tuning impeccable in the tricky double-stops, enjoying a lovely interplay with the orchestra. The virtuosic second movement was despatched with technical mastery and tremendous vigour, its staccato passages nicely biting without being harsh, while Weilerstein’s sensuous vibrato in the fortes and breathtaking bow control in the piano writing of the second theme gave character and depth.

The finale boasted extravagantly long lines and impressive power paired with impressive sensitivity and expression. The transition into the E major arpeggio passage was simply gorgeous and the furiously paced ending truly virtuosic. All in all, it was a performance that impressed for its great mastery, emotional investment and power.

The programme closed with Dvořák’s ‘From the New World’ Symphony, brilliantly performed by the orchestra. The clarity of playing, combined with depth of sound and expressive lyricism, was some of the best I’ve heard from the Philharmonic.