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.