Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Mstislav Rostropovich: Bach Cello Suite No.1

Mstislav Rostropovich [1927-2007] performs the Bach Cello Suite No.1 in G major, BWV 1007. Bach likely composed the Six Suites For Unaccompanied Cello— this being the first—when he was Kapellmeister in Köthen, Germany [1717-1723]

Rostropovich, a Russian cellist born in Baku, Azerbaijan, is considered by many to rank among the greatest classical musicians of the second half of the 20th century. Listening to this Bach piece intimates why this is so; he wrings out of his instrument a richness and clarity that does Bach justice. As is always the case, notably for musicians, the man is marked by his experiences, notably his struggles.

Rostropovich was a well-known fighter for freedom of speech, both within the former Soviet Union and outside its borders. After his public performances were reduced, primarily for his views, Rostropovich left the Soviet Union in 1974 with his wife and children and settled in the United States. From 1977 until 1994, he was musical director and conductor of the U.S.National Symphony Orchestra in Washington.

He returned to his homeland in 1990, when the situation for freedom improved and democracy's hand appeared to be gaining strength.