Alisa Weilerstein joined Pacific Symphony for Dvorak's Cello Concerto and stunned the audience
I love going to see a wide variety of classical concerts particularly when I get to see artists like Alisa in a variety of settings, playing a variety of pieces and watch their growth as an artist. It was my pleasure to see Alisa Weilerstein several years ago performing with the Philadelphia Orchestra at the Vail Valley Music Festival (2009) where she played Schelomo, Rhapsody for Cello and Orchestra. She has matured as a cellist over the past few years and she was pretty amazing back then. Where in Vail she inhabited the voice (and face) of Solomon, last night her performance pulled out both the demanding intensity Dvorak lavishly spreads throughout the first movement, while diving into the depth of despair in the second. The third movement frolics a bit, swerves toward the chaotic and then plummets into the pathos even deeper than before. It was an emotional roller-coaster and Ms Weilerstein handled every twist and curve with precision and intensity.
Pacific Symphony had another guest in last night's performance, Conductor Alexander Shelley. He was given a tall order, taking the orchestra from the baroque Royal Fireworks Music by Handel and immediately jumping into impressionistic music of Debussy's La Mer. Yet, each piece captured both the color of the period in which written. Handel's music glistened with glorious trumpet, with sprinklings of light strings, including a harpsichord which is often buried under the orchestra—not so under Shelley's deft conducting. The Debussy was fraught with all the turbulence and color of the ocean, allowing a wide variety of instruments to each crest above the sea of sound. The dual harps, wonderful flute, oboe, horn, solo violin and cello each adding a delicate touch to music so complex.
The only unfortunate aspect of the evening was the number of empty seats. This isn't a "pack the house" kind of program. It should be. Alisa Weilerstein and Alexander Shelley are extremely good at what they do. Where Shelley brought out the best in Pacific Symphony's performance, Weilerstein added the icing on the top.