By Ted AYALA
The last time she was in town, cellist Alisa Weilerstein left a deep impression on local audiences with her playing of Peter Tchaikovsky’s “Rococo Variations.” The 2011 MacArthur “Genius” Grant recipient returns to Los Angeles for a pair of concerts with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (LACO) this weekend, closing out the LACO 2012-13 season.
Weilerstein will be playing Dmitri Shostakovich’s 1958 “Cello Concerto No. 1,” the first of two cello concertos dedicated to Mstislav Rostropovich. Its dedicatee – who enjoyed a close relationship with the composer and his family since his student days – had been hoping for at least a decade that Shostakovich would compose a work for his instrument. Rostropovich had hoped that his friendship with the composer would bear similar fruit to the one he had with Sergei Prokofiev, who late in life composed three works for cello for the young cellist and left a fourth work incomplete. It may have taken awhile, but the wait was worth it for both Rostropovich and for music.
In four compact movements, the piece is a transitional one in Shostakovich’s body of work, its terse motivic structure and spare instrumentation moving away from the populism of the composer’s mid-1950s works and pointing towards his elliptical, saturnine late period.
Also on the program will be works by Beethoven, Hugo Pioli-Gonzalez and Anna Clyne.
Pioli-Gonzalez’s bassoon concerto “The Love of Zero” will be performed together with a screening of the eponymous avant-garde silent film from 1927 by Robert Florey.
Performances will take place this Saturday at the Alex Theatre; Sunday at UCLA’s Royce Hall. Ticket prices range from $25 to $110. To purchase tickets and obtain more information, visit the LACO website at http://www.laco.org/performances/210 or call (213) 622-7001 (ext. 1).