Mstislav Rostropovich

Rostropovich: Life & Art [DVD Video]

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Mstislav Rostropovich did more for the advancement of the cello than probably any other artist since Pablo Casals. Even after his sad passing in 2007 at the age of 80, is musical influence is felt not only in the cello community, but among orchestral musicians as well. This Deutsche Grammophon DVD is among the many tributes to Rostropovich that have surfaced over the short time since his passing. It features the Schumann Concerto and Bloch's Schelomo with Leonard Bernstein and the Orchestre National de France and Strauss' Don Quixote with Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic. All of these performances are given their first DVD release here. Schumann and Bloch are given intense, riveting performances by Rostropovich and orchestra alike. Any other cellist who played with as much force and aggression would be accused of overplaying, but with Rostropovich the intensity and conviction of his playing are what make the entire performance. The filming of Don Quixote is very different from the other two pieces; a very soft focus is used and concentrates extensively on Karajan's various facial affectations rather than Rostropovich. Like the focus of the camera, Berlin sounds very fuzzy and hazy in this recording. The most enjoyable aspect of this DVD, however, is the regrettably short (less than 30 minutes) documentary at the end. Although it only superficially covers the events of Rostropovich's 80-year life, it is nonetheless an enjoyable tribute.