NPR logo Alisa Weilerstein: From Bach To The Backstreets Of Buenos Aires

Alisa Weilerstein: From Bach To The Backstreets Of Buenos Aires

The story is often told about how Alisa Weilerstein's grandmother hand-crafted a cello for the three-year-old Alisa, hoping to assuage her itchy chicken pox. That was the beginning of what is now her impressive career as one of today's top concert cellists.

I first heard Weilerstein when I was programming the classical music program Performance Today. We collected concert tape from around the country and I still recall a very vibrant performance of her playing Elgar's Cello Concerto in 2001, with Marin Alsop leading the Colorado Symphony. I was struck by the remarkable depth of heart and soul in a performance by someone still in her teens.

We asked Weilerstein to join us at our office space recently for another of our Tiny Desk Concerts. She proved that she still has all the vibrancy and deep feeling. And now her playing has matured further, as you can hear in how she plays Bach with danceable abandon, and a recent piece by Osvaldo Golijov that is at once frightening, tender and tuneful.

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