Performance Tuesday, October 17, 2017 | 7:30 PM

Alisa Weilerstein, Cello
Inon Barnatan, Piano

Zankel Hall
“Their interpretations were like a series of marvelously expressive close-ups: every note and phrase pinned to an exact emotion,” wrote The Boston Globe of cellist Alisa Weilerstein and pianist Inon Barnatan. The duo performs Mendelssohn’s impassioned Cello Sonata No. 2 and a new work by Steven Mackey co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall. The two also explore a Russian connection with Britten’s mercurial work, written for cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, and Rachmaninoff’s Cello Sonata, a piece that journeys from anguish to jubilation.


  • Alisa Weilerstein, Cello
  • Inon Barnatan, Piano


  • MENDELSSOHN Cello Sonata No. 2 in D Major
  • BRITTEN Cello Sonata
  • STEVEN MACKEY Through Your Fingers (World Premiere, co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall)
  • RACHMANINOFF Cello Sonata

At a Glance

FELIX MENDELSSOHN  Cello Sonata No. 2 in D Major, Op. 58

Mendelssohn was a formidable pianist who often introduced his own music to the public. As the director of Leipzig’s venerable Gewandhaus Orchestra, he organized a series of chamber music concerts that provided an outlet for his smaller-scale works. The lugubrious, recitative-like Adagio of the D-Major Sonata contrasts sharply with the lighthearted outer movements, which evoke the composer’s contemporaneous incidental music for A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

BENJAMIN BRITTEN  Cello Sonata in C Major, Op. 65

Written in the early 1960s, this suite-like, five-movement sonata was the first fruit of Britten’s long and rewarding collaboration with the great Russian cellist Mstislav Rostropovich. The work’s edgy lyricism reflects what the composer’s friend W. H. Auden famously labeled the “Age of Anxiety.” At the same time, the music bears the stamp of Rostropovich’s earthy, exuberant virtuosity.

STEVEN MACKEY  Through Your Fingers

A self-professed musical “mutt,” Steven Mackey is known for his imaginatively colored and strongly rhythmic scores that draw on a broad spectrum of popular and classical idioms. He describes his new work for cello and piano as “a dialogue between music that is readily grasped and that which seems to slip through one’s fingers.”

SERGEI RACHMANINOFF  Cello Sonata in G Minor, Op. 19

Rachmaninoff remained an unabashed champion of Romanticism long past the style’s sell-by date in the first half of the 20th century. The lush and impetuously lyrical language that characterizes such early works as the G-Minor Cello Sonata of 1901 remained the pianist-composer’s stock in trade for the remaining four decades of his life. Rachmaninoff’s soaring melodies, richly upholstered textures, and highly idiomatic writing for both cello and piano have given the work a secure place in the repertoire.

Emerging Israeli artists at Carnegie Hall are supported, in part, by the Sir Jack Lyons Charitable Trust.
This concert is made possible, in part, by an endowment fund for young artists established by Mr. and Mrs. Anthony B. Evnin and the AE Charitable Foundation.
Lead support for the 125 Commissions Project is provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
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Additional funding is provided by members of Carnegie Hall's Composer Club.
This performance is part of Chamber Sessions I.

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