Alisa Weilerstein and Inon Barnatan are well paired in this disc . . . [Rachmaninov / Cello Sonata]: Weilerstein brings to it an expansive, sweeping lyricism, with a surprising amount of tone in reserve for the big moments. Barnaton's playing is just as eloquent: beautifully light and supple one moment, biting the next, always nuanced, and steering the music surely. The Chopin Sonata, a valedictory work, gets just the right balance of doubt and resolve; the long first movement has a searching quality that really holds the ear . . . a transcription of Chopin's piano Étude in C sharp minor which, with Weilerstein's long, singing phrases and juicy slides, sounds as much a song without words as does Rachmaninov's Vocalise.
. . . [the pieces on this disc, played by Weilerstein and] Barnatan with a level of musical symbiosis that transcends casual partnership, are of that variety of music that lurks in the subconscious like memories waiting to be relived . . . [Rachmaninov / Cello Sonata / 2nd movement]: The interplay of their sharing of thematic material makes the Andante movement a legitimate conversation in music, almost a love duet, and the lyrical eloquence of their playing provides numerous moments of spine-tingling emotional impact . . . the discography of Rachmaninov's Sonata for cello and piano, though still an underappreciated work, contains many fine traversals, and the Chopin Sonata has been even more fortunate on records. Still, neither piece has been more blessed in the recording studio than when Alisa Weilerstein and Inon Barnatan met before the microphones in Berlin. Yet again in the long history of recorded sound a DECCA release restores confidence in the integrity of contemporary artists. More fundamentally, this is a ravishing recording of fantastic music.
. . . 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 of breaking point. That's what makes the first-movement climax so intoxicating, and why the second communicates with such fire-bellied urgency. But it's at the opposite end of the spectrum that they really make their mark. In the third movement Barnatan finds a delicate songfulness . . . [and other cellists can't match] Weilerstein's sense of mystery in the first. 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: just listen to them dart between the thunderous outbursts and the tranquil oases of the first movement . . . this latest release leaves few notes unexamined. That's just as true of the smaller-scale works, in which Weilerstein and Barnatan reject received ideas . . . And in their hands Chopin's "Polonaise brillante" sounds both poised and soulful . . .
. . . [this CD] shows just how much she has to offer in the chamber music field. From the opening bars of the Rachmaninov Cello Sonata in G Minor, Op.19 it's clear that this is going to be gloriously expansive playing from both performers. Barnatan is simply superb at the keyboard, with a beautifully judged use of legato in the long, flowing Rachmaninov phrases, and Weilerstein displays the qualities so often mentioned in reviews of her playing: technique, passion and intensity. It's a captivating and engrossing performance. The high standard continues through the Vocalise, Op.34 No.14 to the Chopin Cello Sonata in G Minor, Op.65 . . . the two make an ideal pairing here . . . a truly beautiful CD.
Weilerstein and Barnaton make an effective duo in romantic cello works that sing and dance ardently . . . [they] bring their own fervent enthusiasm to the Rachmaninov Sonata, especially in the luscious secondary tune that occupies the middle of the fiery "Allegro scherzando" . . . passionate, committed playing . . . [Rachmaninov / Vocalise]: Weilerstein's 1790 Forster instrument receives gold-star treatment under the sonic guidance of Friedemann Engelbrecht production talents.
Here is an attractive programme of music for cello and piano . . . [Rachmaninov / Cello Sonata]: [Weilerstein and Barnatan] tackle the work's surging melodies and sweeping lines head-on and yet show enough restraint in the quieter passages to be really moving. I cannot think of another pair of musicians, other than perhaps Rostropovich and Argerich, who could do as much justice to this sonata as those on this CD . . . This powerful new account of the Rachmaninov is recorded up close, but with a rich and pleasing sound and excellent balance between the two instruments . . . I never really cared all that much before about the Rachmaninov Cello Sonata, but am sure I will be listening to this recording again and again. As an encore the duo perform the ubiquitous "Vocalise" and do not over-milk it in the least . . . [Chopin / Cello Sonata]: Again the instruments are well matched with the piano having billing equal to that of the cello, as one would expect from Chopin. The present artists are also well suited to this music and capture its Romantic spirit very well . . . They pay particular attention to the dynamics throughout, as one is unusually aware in the second movement "Scherzo". The third movement is one of the composer's loveliest songs . . . Weilerstein and Barnatan perform it simply and beautifully . . . this has been a delightful listening experience from beginning to end.
. . . This programme seems absolutely tailor-made for Alisa Weilerstein . . . In this superbly recorded recital, she delivers one of the most compelling performances of the Rachmaninov I've ever heard. Her negotiation of the fluctuating tempos and contrasting moods in the first movement is totally compelling, as is the menacing tone she achieves in the lower reaches of her instrument at the opening of the ensuing "Scherzo". Later in the same movement, she offers some wonderfully magical "mezza voce" playing in the middle section. The "Andante" is deeply felt, yet thankfully free from excessive indulgence, and it is followed by a Finale that is suitably uplifting and optimistic, the lyrical second idea projected with great warmth and nobility . . . Inon Barnatan brings great musical insight and a marvellous variety of tone to the hugely demanding piano part. There's an irresistibly mercurial lightness of touch in the "Scherzo", and at the opposite end of the dynamic spectrum, the barnstorming chordal passages in the middle of the Finale are full-bodied but without ever sounding bombastic . . . [the performance of the Chopin is equally involving with plenty to admire,] not least the structurally convincing negotiation of changing tempos in the opening "Allegro moderato" . . . and the urgency and rhythmic exhilaration of the Finale.
Ms. Weilerstein and Mr. Barnatan give rhapsodic and stylish accounts of these impressive works . . . rewarding . . .
. . . an intimate experience . . . Alisa Weilerstein and Inon Barnatan perform these works with a deep connection both to their friendship and to this music.
Alisa Weilerstein is gifted with a dynamic musical personality that clearly stands out as something extraordinary . . . What sets her apart is the nuance of her bowing, a beautiful sound, and remarkable musical instincts . . . [this recording is] totally captivating . . . Besides the virtues of Weilerstein's playing, the rising Israeli pianist Inon Bamatan, her longtime duo partner, turns out to be a superb accompanist. He's sensitive to every gesture from the cello while thoroughly mastering the bravura parts . . . Decca's up-to-date sonics give us a spectrum of color from both instruments that adds considerably to the impact of the performances. Weilerstein throws herself into the rhapsodic first movement of the Rachmaninoff without losing her poise and gorgeous timbre . . . and in both movements Weilerstein compels our attention without overstepping the bounds -- every swelling climax is followed by a passage of refined delicacy that's almost meditative . . . [in the Chopin Sonata, Weilerstein] gives herself over to the music in a satisfying way . . . Her lyrical serenity in the "Largo" is quite moving and yet seemingly simple . . . [in the Chopin Polonaise]Weilerstein holds her ground quite impressively in a reading that's light and buoyant . . . in its own right this is an outstanding disc, aided by its splendid recorded sound.
. . . this is an enjoyable reading . . . Weilerstein gives the sonata a committed performance . . . Inon Barnatan, Weilerstein's regular sonata partner, is excellent in the elaborate piano parts. Weilerstein's disc offers an attractive pairing of the cello sonatas of these two quintessential pianist-composers.