Notes and Editorial Reviews
Mstislav Rostropovich (1927–2007) is unquestionably one of the great personalities of the 20th century – as a cellist, as a pianist, as a conductor, but also as a politically active citizen, who made use of his international artistic renown to help dissidents or strengthen democracies. After it became known abroad that he had written to four Russian newspapers in defense of Alexander Solzhenitsyn, he found it harder to work in the Soviet Union and he and his wife, soprano Galina Vishnevskaya, were eventually stripped of their citizenship. Although rehabilitated by Gorbachev and awarded the highest order of merit by Putin, they declined the restoration of citizenship, preferring to remain stateless. The recordings compiled into this set were made when Rostropovich was already famous in the Soviet Union (Stalin Prize 1951, Lenin Prize 1961) but largely unknown in the West. They document the early career of Mstislav Rostropovich, which is of particular significance for the premieres of major works by Shostakovich, Prokofiev and Kabalevsky.