On April 26 and 27, the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia played two concerts in the Pillar Hall of the House of the Unions in Moscow. The concerts, led by conductor Sir Antonio Pappano, brought the Third International Mstislav Rostropovich to a close. Notably, membership in Rome's Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia was among Mstislav Rostropovich's many honorary titles.

Discussing the performances, Pappano said, “The first concert had a lot of parts for solo cello. At the beginning of the “William Tell Overture,” in Ponchielli's “Dance of the Hours,” and in Schumann's Fourth Symphony. In the second concert, we performed a symphony by Dvořák. I know that Maestro Mstislav Rostropovich particularly loved Dvořák, they both belong to the Slavic musical tradition. I knew Rostropovich personally. He conducted our orchestra on several occasions. He was an incredible person. Apart from his immense talent, I was also struck by his sense of humor. I'm pleased to be able to perform as part of this festival.”

In the final concert, the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia also performed Sergei Prokofiev's Third Piano Concerto, accompanied by 25-year-old pianist Yuja Wang. Ms. Wang, who was appearing in Moscow for the first time, clearly impressed by the audience with her talent, virtuosity and artistry.

On April 25, the grand opening of the exhibition “ROSTROPOVICH AND VISHNEVSKAYA: Crossed Fates” was held at the Glinka Museum. It was organized as part of the ongoing Third International Mstislav Rostropovich Festival.

Materials for the exhibition were taken from the Rostropovich family archives, as well as the archives of the Bolshoi Theatre Museum and the Glinka Museum, the archives of Alexander Solzhenitsyn, and the collection of the National Congress Palace in St. Petersburg. The exhibition traces important events in the lives of Mstislav Rostropovich and Galina Vishnevksaya, beginning with their childhoods and documenting the development of their careers, their activities as public figures, and their family histories. Many of the items featured in the exhibition have rarely been seen outside of the Rostropovich-Vishnevskaya family circle, and quite a few of them are now being seen by the public for the first time.
A separate hall is dedicated to materials from the family archives not related to the Rostropovich-Vishnevskaya family history. These include the diaries of Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna, materials relating to the investigation of the assassination of the tsar's family, and the letters of Russian emperors, artists, directors and musicians. The Rostropovich art collection, which includes paintings by Repin, Bryullov, Levitan, Grigoriev and Malyavin, is also on display.
The exhibition will run through June 30, 2012. Subsequently, parts of it will be later integrated into an exhibition at the new Mstislav Rostropovich and Galina Vishnevskaya Center, which will open soon in Moscow.

On April 23, The Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band played a concert in the Tchaikovsky Concerto Hall in Moscow as part of the ongoing Third International Mstislav Rostropovich Festival. The band was founded by legendary jazz trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie.

Introducing the concert, Olga Rostropovich, artistic direct of the Rostropovich Festival, said, “my father loved jazz, that's why including a jazz band in our program, especially one of such high caliber, seemed right to me.”
The audience enthusiastically received the band, a number of whose musicians had performed with Gillespie himself. Despite the fact that they had flown in from New York only a few hours before the concert, their professionalism clearly triumphed over their exhaustion. “We'd like to thank our Moscow audience for such a warm reception,” the band's artistic director Dennis Mackrel said. “We played in this hall five years ago, and we're very happy to be here again today, performing as part of a festival dedicated to the great Mstislav Rostropovich. A lot of people worked hard to make this concert happen, and we'd like to thank them, especially Olga Rostropovich for inviting us, today we're playing for you.”

On April 14, the Orchestre de Paris performed with American cellist Alisa Weilerstein in the Pillar Hall of the House of the Unions. Paavo Järvi conducted. The concert took place as part of the ongoing Third International Mstislav Rostropovich Festival.

Rostropovich was friends with Järvi's father, the famous conductor Neemi Järvi, and was a frequent guest in their home. Paavo Järvi still recalls meeting Rostropovich as a child. In his opening remarks, he said, “I played with Rostropovich in Stockholm when I was 23 years old, he was performing Boccherini and Haydn. My parents came in specially to attend the concert, they were very excited, and it was a very important event for all of us, not just in terms of the music, but also in terms of the people involved. Mstislav Rostropovich performed frequently in Estonia, he liked playing music by Estonian composers, and they in turn dedicated their works to him. In tonight's concert, we're going to play music by Schumann – he's my favorite composer, a Romantic – and Prokofiev's Symphony-Concerto, which is dedicated to Rostropovich. Alisa Weilerstein is certainly one of the best cellists in the United States, if not the best. I really love this concerto, it has a lot of difficult and interesting moments for the orchestra...”

Alisa Weilerstein, who was performing in Russia for the first time, and celebrated her 30th birthday on the day of the performance, made a strong impression on the audience. The Orchestre de Paris had not performed in Moscow for twenty-three years years, making the concert, which included Schumann's First Symphony and “Manfred” overture, a major event.

The Rostropovich Festival will continue with a solo concerto featuring Maxim Vengerov. The concert will take place on April 21 in the main hall of the Moscow Conservatory.

A concert involving approximately one hundred cellists – world-famous soloists as well as musicians from the best Russian orchestras – was held on April 12 in the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall. The concert, titled “An Offering to Mstislav Rostropovich,” took place as part of the ongoing Third International Mstislav Rostropovich Festival.

In his introductory remarks, Sviatoslav Belza recalled Krzysztof Penderecki's statement that the famous cellist “raised the status of the cello as a musical instrument.” Belza noted that Rostropovich raised the status of musicians in general.

A number of Rostropovich's students took part in the concert, including David Geringas, Ivan Monigetti and Denis Shapovalov. Also notable was a new generation of Russian cellists – Rostropovich's “musical children and grandchildren,” as Belza called them – including Alexander Knyazev, Kirill Rodin, Alexander Buzlov, Boris Andrianov and Yevgeny Rumyantsev.

The concert program was made up of works associated with Rostropovich in one way or another. Some were frequently performed by him, others were dedicated to him. Like Rostropovich, the cellists took on a number of different roles, performing as soloists, ensemble members and conductors. Many of the works were heard for the first time in transcriptions for cello – for example, Sergei Rachmaninoff's “Vocalize” and Maurice Ravel's “Bolero.” In the latter piece, the cellist was accompanied by percussionist Mark Pekarsky. Most of the works were performed in transcriptions specially prepared for the concert by Artyom Vasiliev and Denis Shapovalov.

The next concert of the Mstislav Rostropovich Festival will be a performance by the Orchestre de Paris with Paavo Järvi as conductor and Alisa Weilerstein as soloist. The concert will be held on April 14 in the Pillar Hall of the House of the Unions. It begins at 7pm.

The St. Petersburg Philharmonic played concerts in the Pillar Hall of the House of the Unions under the baton of Yuri Temirkanov

On April 3 and 4, the St. Petersburg Philharmonic played concerts in the Pillar Hall of the House of the Unions under the baton of Yuri Temirkanov. The concerts took place as part of the ongoing Third International Mstislav Rostropovich Festival. Two years ago, Temirkanov led the Philharmonic as it opened the First Rostropovich Festival, and the conductor has always had close ties with Olga Rostropovich and other members of the Rostropovich family. His acquaintance with Mstislav Rostropovich began when he attended classes taught by the famous musician. Temirkanov later said of these classes, “every meeting with him energized me like a religious person feels energized entering a church, it was like New Year's when you're a kid. Joyful, even though you don't understand why.”

The April 3 concert opened with Shostakovich's First Cello Concerto, dedicated to Rostropovich. The soloist was Italian cellist Enrico Dindo, first-place winner of the Mstislav Rostropovich Competition in Paris in 1997. At the time, Rostropovich characterized the young soloist by saying, “He's a great cellist, a real artist and a fully-developed musician, with a fantastic sound that flows like a beautiful Italian song.” The second work, a Moscow premiere, was Giya Kancheli's “...al Niente”, dedicated to Temirkanov. The audience enthusiastically received the bright, expressive palette of Kancheli's piece.

The program of the April 4 concert was dedicated to Sergei Rachmaninoff. Well-known Italian pianist Alessio Bax's performance as soloist in the composer's Second Piano Concerto was well-received. The next piece, Rachmaninoff's Second Symphony, particularly impressed the audience and received a long ovation.

The festival's next concert, “An Offering to Mstislav Rostropovich,” will be held on April 12 in the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall.

The London Philharmonic Orchestra played two concerts in the main hall of the Moscow Conservatory, conducted by Wladimir Jurowski

On April 1 and 2, the London Philharmonic Orchestra played two concerts in the main hall of the Moscow Conservatory, conducted by Wladimir Jurowski. The concerts were conceived as part of the ongoing Third International Mstislav Rostropovich Festival.

The LPO first performed in Russia in 1956 and was the first British orchestra to perform behind the iron curtain. Many of its musicians knew Mstislav Rostropovich personally — the famous cellist played with them under the baton of Carlo Maria Giulini. Before the concert, they were photographed on the stage of the main hall behind the cellist's portrait.

The LPO's April 1 concert consisted of Beethoven's Fifth Piano Concerto and Brahms' Fourth Symphony. The soloist for the first piece was Austrian pianist Rudolf Buchbinder. The April 2 concert, which bore the title «An Offering to Sergei Prokofiev,» was hailed by Olga Rostropovich, the festival's artistic director, as a historical performance. The first part of the concert consisted of Prokofiev's incidental music for the play «Egyptian Nights,» commissioned by Alexander Tairov for the Moscow Chamber Theatre. Before being revived by Jurowski, Prokofiev's score had not been heard since 1934, when Tairov's theater was closed. In a short introduction, the conductor discussed the history of «Egyptian Nights» and its subsequent fate. «We used all the numbers written by Prokofiev, including the ones that weren't used in the play. The result is a rather fluid composition, which we present to you now,» Jurowski said. Russian theatrical stars Chulpan Khamatov and Konstantin Khabensky took part in the performance, reading texts by George Bernard Shaw, Alexander Pushkin and William Shakespeare.

The second part of the concert consisted of Prokofiev's oratorio «Ivan the Terrible,» orchestrated by Levon Atovmyan and first performed by the LPO in January 2012 as part of London's «Unknown Prokofiev» festival. Professor Nelly Kravets of Tel-Aviv University was invited by Olga Rostropovich to discuss the history of the rare work's discovery. Kravets found the score in the Atovmyan family archive, where it had been kept for more than 50 years. Atovmyan was not only the director of the Musical Foundation of the Soviet Union, but also Prokofiev's close friend and manager, and he played a major role in the composer's fate. Soloists Yelena Zaremba (mezzo-soprano) and Andrei Breus (bariton) sang the primary roles. They were accompanied by the the Sveshnikov State Academic Russian Choir and the Chamber Choir of the Moscow Conservatory, which were conducted by Boris Tevlin.

Unveiling of a monument to Mstislav Rostropovich

On March 29, a monument to Mstislav Rostropovich was unveiled at the intersection of Briusov and Eliseevsky Side-Streets, accompanied by a grand ceremony.
Opening the ceremony, Minister of Culture Alexander Avdeev pointed out that the monument's unveiling coincided with the 85th anniversary of Rostropovich's birth and noted that it was the first monument in Moscow dedicated to Rostropovich.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin also spoke at the ceremony, calling talented people like Rostropovich the pride of their country. “He was not only a wonderful musician, he was also an great humanist and simply a wonderful person,” Putin said. “His heart always went out to others. The monument is absolutely wonderful, and it will without a doubt be a beautiful addition to our capital.” In his speech, Putin also voiced his support for plans to build a Mstislav Rostropovich and Galina Vishnevskaya Center for Cultural Heritage in Moscow.
Rostropovich's family, including Galina Vishnevskaya and Olga and Elena Rostropovich, participated in the unveiling of the monument along with a number of important cultural and political figures.
Work on the monument began in 2010. Among the notable artists involved in the project were sculptor Alexander Rukavishnikov and architect Igor Voskresensky.

The Nizhegorodskaya Philharmonic concert

On March 28, the Nizhegorodskaya Philharmonic, led by conductor Alexander Skulsky, played in the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall as part of the ongoing Third International Mstislav Rostropovich Festival. The group, with whom Rostropovich often performed as both soloist and conductor, had not played in Moscow for nearly 10 years. Read more...

Grand Opening of the Third International Mstislav Rostropovich Festival

The grand opening of the Third International Mstislav Rostropovich Festival took place on March 27 in the main hall of the Moscow Conservatory.  The festival was initially conceived by artistic director Olga Rostropovich as a musical gift to celebrate the birthday of her father, the famous cellist and conductor.  This year, to mark the 85th anniversary of Rostropovich's birth, the festival has broadened its scope, inviting some of the best musicians and musical groups from more than 10 countries, many of them pupils of Rostropovich and his co-performers on the stage, as well as a number of young, talented winners of international competitions. Read more...

© International Rostropovich Festival “Mstislav Rostropovich Week”, 2010 — 2017