ROSTROPOVITSCH PERFORMS CELLO CONCERTOS DVORAK/SAINT-SAENS
One of the greatest cellists ever
London's Henry Wood Hall briefly became a musical Olympus in 1979 when two giants came together to make music: the cellist Mstislav Rostropovich and the conductor Carlo Maria Giulini. Both at the summit of their art in the late 70s and early 80s, they joined forces with the London Philharmonic Orchestra to record two great cello concertos on video: Antonin Dvorák's Cello Concerto in B minor op. 104 and Camille Saint- Saëns' Cello Concerto No. 1 in A minor op. 33.
Director Hugo Käch's camera caresses the movements of soloist and conductor, reveling in the elegant bowing and expressive wealth of the cellist and the calm authority and imposing majesty of the maestro. Rostropovich, who is often hailed as the world's greatest musician, made his debut as a cellist in 1942, and has since established himself as a consummate master of his instrument and a vital instigator of many new works for the cello. He worked closely with such distinguished 20th-century composers as Prokofiev and Shostakovich (with whom he studied), Britten, Bernstein, Penderecki, Schnittke... Also a supremely talented conductor, Rostropovich headed the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington D.C. from 1977 to 1994.
Rostropovich has often performed the Dvorák Cello Concerto, including at a Moscow concert that marked his return to the stage in the Soviet Union after having been banned from performing for his support of Alexander Solzhenitsyn. Dvorák wrote his concerto in 1894/95 in the United States, at the height of his fame, and premiered it in London in 1896. Next to his "New World" Symphony, it is the composer's most popular work.
Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921) was an enormously versatile musician who absorbed influences from Wagner, Verdi and Baroque music, and triggered a new interest in chamber music and orchestral music in France in the last quarter of the 19th century. His Concerto No. 1 for cello and orchestra was written in 1873 and stands out for the compactness and clarity of its structure, elegant workmanship, urbane style and richness of melodic material. Under Giulini and Rostropovich, the concerto glows with a special warmth and intensity that make this recording a precious document for posterity.