The beginning of the 1960s was marked by a thaw of the Soviet bloc which included the first great international tours of artists like Sviatoslav Richter and Mstislav Rostropovich, who left a lasting impression on Western music-lovers. 1961 was Rostropovich's first official excursion, immortalised by the televised performance in London of Shostakovich's Cello Concerto No. 1, which was composed for him and which he had recently premièred in the USSR. Rostropovich's technical skill, fire and almost youthful fervour beggar comparison both here and in another major work from the repertoire, also dedicated to him, Prokofiev's Symphony-Concerto, which was filmed in Cannes in 1970, shortly before he went into exile. This work is one of the most difficult in existence, demanding an extraordinary level of prowess and a physical commitment comparable to that of a top-level athlete. These are priceless records of the music of the 20th century performed by a unique artist. In the bonus section, we have Rostropovich on the piano for a moving rendering of Mussorgsky's Songs and Dances of Death sung by his wife Galina Vishnevskaya, then a star of the Bolshoi.
Shostakovich Cello Concerto No.1 - London 1961 Prokofiev Sinfonia concertante - Cannes 1970 Bonus Galina Vichnievskaia, Mstislav Rostropovich; Mussorgski Songs and Dances of Death - Paris 1970