Haydn: Cello concertos (Pentatone)
★★ (out of five)
There’s a debate going on among agents as to whether it is better for an artist to have an exclusive record contract or to work across several labels. Alisa Weilerstein, who has made outstanding recordings of the Elgar, Dvorak and Shostakovich concertos for Decca, has now popped up on a Dutch label with the two Haydn concertos and Schoenberg’s Transfigured Night. Pentatone is a terrific label, run by former Philips professionals. This ought to be a top-drawer recommendation. Why it isn’t is a matter of some perplexity.
Weilerstein dispenses with a conductor for these pieces, which is not unusual. But her tempi at the opening of the D major concerto are not crisp, and the ensemble is not powerful enough to challenger her into a stronger course. The C major concerto, slightly snappier, sags a bit in the Adagio.
As for the Schoenberg, it warbles along in a convivial blur without ever suggesting it is telling a compelling story of love and death. The Trondheim Soloists make all the right noises, mostly together, but I get no sense of urgency in this enterprise. There are stronger accounts of the concertos by Rostropovich, Isserlis, Maisky, Caucon, Du Pre and Yo-Yo Ma.