Can’t forget to note that today is also the 80th birthday of Russian cellist & conductor Mstislav Rostropovich. Performance Today is doing a series of tributes all this week – today featuring a brief interview with Emerson quartet cellist David Finckel, along with a classic Slava performance (from 1964) of the finale of the Dvorak cello concerto – what critic and author Ted Libbey has called “THE great cello concerto.” Talk about a living legacy… when I produced an interview with Rostropovich at Tanglewood a few years ago he noted that he’s recorded the Dvorak concerto eight times – the first time with the Czech Philharmonic in 1951! Sure enough, he played the Dvorak concerto with the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra that day – and while far from note-perfect, it was classic Rostropovich – warm, big-hearted, and that incredible sound from the upper range of his instrument.
So today I’ll listen to Ted’s pick for the definitive Rostropovich recording – a DG recording from 1968 with the Berlin Philharmonic and Herbert von Karajan – one of the “PT 50″ picks we put together a few years back. There’s also news today that EMI and DG are reissuing a whole bunch of classic Rostropovich recordings – and in fact put his entire EMI catalogue on iTunes – including “11 currently unvailable albums, two of which have never been issued on CD.” And I would remiss if I didn’t note that you can watch portions of Rostropovich playing the concerto on YouTube with Carlo Mara Giulini and the London Philharmonic – a 1977 recording that’s on DVD.