This season, the National Symphony Orchestra has started occasionally varying the format of its subscription concerts. Rather than offer the same thing on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, the NSO sometimes plays something different on Friday night.
This week, Friday’s concert is a preview of the performance that the orchestra will give May 11 at Carnegie Hall — its first performance there with its current music director, Christoph Eschenbach. On Thursday and Saturday, however, instead of 20th-century Russian music, the orchestra scheduled the Elgar Cello Concerto on the first half of the program.
The Carnegie Hall appearance is part of Spring for Music, a festival celebrating American orchestras and innovative programming, but perhaps that programming was deemed a little too innovative for D.C. subscription audiences.
Or maybe the orchestra already had a commitment to Alisa Weilerstein, the cello virtuoso whom the concerto showcased. Weilerstein has been a rising star for at least a decade, so she is ready to move into star territory — although it’s notable that her presentation still smacks of the child prodigy she once was. She took the stage Thursday in a princess-prom dress, all pale-blue tulle and sparkly sequins, looking about 12 years old.