April 27, 2007

Dreams of night, lost in shade

The admittedly parochial thing that always amazed me about Mstislav Rostropovich, who died today, was that, even if he had never picked up a cello or a baton, he probably could have still been world-famous as an accompanist. As it was, he only ever really showed this talent in recitals with his wife, the formidable soprano Galina Vishnevskaya. The pair premiered a number of works written for them, including a personal enthusiasm, Benjamin Britten's Pushkin cycle The Poet's Echo—which I continually, and so far unsuccessfully, have attempted to foist on many a singer. (They also started their own foundation dedicated to improving the health and plight of children in the former Soviet Union.) Here's the pair performing the "Elegy" from Mussorgsky's Sunless.

Dreams of night are lost in shadow.
Through heaven's misty clouds,
A pale, lonely star keeps watch over the earth,
While far below, in the distant valley,
The tiny bells of roaming sheep sadly echo.

2 comments:

sfmike said...

I'm still waiting for "Galina," The Movie. Her autobiography is one of the greatest wild looks at the Soviet world ever written, and her partnership with Rostropovich and Britten is also an unappreciated legend as you indicate.

I managed to hear Mstislav conduct a couple of all-Shostakovich programs last year in San Francisco that are going to stay in my brain for as long as I live. He had a great, interesting life, both musically and otherwise, and he'll be greatly missed.

Matthew said...

I bought Galina in a used bookstore years and years ago solely for the cover photo. And yes, the book lives up to the picture. I'm thinking Meryl Streep could have a lot of fun with that role.