S0348. MSTISLAV ROSTROPOVICH & SVIATOSLAV RICHTER: Sonata #3 in A; Sonata #4 in C (both Beethoven); Sonata #1 in e (Brahms), Live Performances, 1 March, 1950, Moscow; Sonata #1 in e (Brahms); Sonata in a (Grieg), Live Performances, 20 June, 1964, Aldeburgh; - 723721345556
“Mstislav Rostropovich, the cellist and conductor was renowned not only as one of the great instrumentalists of the 20th century but also as an outspoken champion of artistic freedom in the Soviet Union during the last decades of the cold war.
As a cellist, Mr. Rostropovich played a vast repertory that included works written for him by some of the 20th century’s greatest composers. Among them were Shostakovich’s Cello Concertos; Prokofiev’s Cello Concerto, Cello Sonata and Symphony-Concerto; and Britten’s Sonata, Cello Symphony and three Suites. Perhaps because his repertory was so broad, Mr. Rostropovich was able to make his cello sing in an extraordinary range of musical accents. In the big Romantic showpieces — the Dvorák, Schumann, Saint-Säens and Elgar concertos, for example — he dazzled listeners with both his richly personalized interpretations and a majestic warmth of tone. He could be a firebrand in contemporary works, and he seemed to enjoy producing the unusual timbres that modernist composers often demanded. He played the premieres of solo works by William Walton, Georges Auric, Dmitri Kabalevsky and Nikolai Miaskovsky, as well as concertos by Alfred Schnittke, Arvo Pärt, Krzysztof Penderecki and Lukas Foss, among others.
He also studied composition with Shostakovich, and continued to do so even after the Soviet authorities condemned both Shostakovich and Prokofiev for ‘formalist perversions and antidemocratic tendencies’. He later studied composition privately with Prokofiev, and although Mr. Rostropovich’s compositions are not well known, they include two piano concertos, a string quartet and several solo piano works.”
- Allan Kozinn, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 27 April, 2007
“After Stalin’s death in 1953, the Soviet Union lifted a bit of the Iron Curtain to allow some major midcareer Russian artists to make debuts in America. Among them were the violinist David Oistrakh and the pianist Emil Gilels, both in 1955. Notably missing was the towering pianist Sviatoslav Richter, an artist of, in the best sense, demonic powers, whose performances combined stunning technique, myriad colorings and fierce integrity. Every time Gilels was lavished with praise by musicians in America, he would offer thanks, then add, ‘Wait until you hear Richter!’
…when Richter auditioned at Moscow Conservatory for the pianist Heinrich Neuhaus, who would become his most influential teacher, Neuhaus, deeply impressed, whispered to a nearby student that he thought young Richter a ‘musician of genius’.”
- Anthony Tommasini, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 24 Sept., 2015