Alisa Weilerstein demonstrates her flawless technique and unflagging, seemingly innate musicality . . . Adding authenticity to her rendition of his Cello Concerto is the polished Czech Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Jirí Belohlávek. After an invigorating opening, by turns anthemic, pastoral and lyrical, Weilerstein enters with deep sound and authoritative playing. Her precision and rhythmic drive in vigorous passages and taut trills bring out the tension as the work escalates. By contrast, she employs an appealing sense of breadth to long-lined, singing phrases. Throughout, she is keenly sensitive to shifts in dynamics and mood and finds a compelling variety of tone colors, from a vulnerable whisper to a sentimental, rhapsodic quality and, finally, a rustic character to the folk-inflected finale. Anna Polonsky proves a worthy accompanist in a series of songs and shorter works, including a tender rendition of "Goin' Home," a melody from Dvorák's Symphony No. 9.
In Dvorak, she demonstrates her patented, artistic resolve and firmness of musical purpose, as she intones a fiercely personal statement in a work already documented with the composer's own romantic sub-text, his long-unrequited love for Josefina Cermakova. Jiri Belohlavek . . . coaxes a suave, flexible cushion of sound to support Weilerstein's ardent lyricism, realized with [directness of expression] . . . The conductor's long familiarity with the score makes every sonic detail pertinent to the whole, especially as Dvorak's interior voices constantly evoke pastoral and sometimes tragic elements . . . in the second movement her fluidly large and expressive tone proves ravishing in its elegiac song, itself interrupted by a passing reference to Josefina's favorite "Lasst mich allein" that the composer twice quotes in the course of the "Concerto". The crisp attack, relatively free of ostentatious vibrato, with which Weilerstein opens the "Finale: Allegro moderato", begins a marvelous collision of disparate forces, not the least of which involve Belohlavek's inflamed woodwinds and tympani. The momentum of the third movement again flows with an authority and fervor that compel repeated hearings. Weilersten's cello seems to muse in a world of flowers, birds, and vivid landscapes . . . The haunted song "Leave me alone," so dear to Dvorak's beloved and to his concerto tribute, receives a touching realization, lilted at every turn. The 1891 "Rondo in G Minor" casts both a gypsy and somber glow at once, and Weilerstein captures its elegiac poise as much as she fashions its more impishly virtuosic outer sections. Much in the Feuermann tradition, she exploits a passionately direct attack that plays with the phrases in pushes and pulls, as she chooses . . . ["Silent woods"]: The musical gambit of "G Minor/Major" makes its final appearance in the marvelous furiant of "Op. 46, No. 8", the "Slavonic Dance" that concludes that earlier of the two sets of dances. The busy cello line and swelling, insistent chords from Polonsky's keyboard attest to an athletic as well as aesthetic partnership of superb musicianship.