The greatest cellist of his time, and a man of enormous generosity and charisma, Mstislav Rostropovich (1927-2007) became an influential figure in the world’s culture. Composers such as Prokofiev, Shostakovich and Britten numbered among his many friends, and his mastery of traditional repertoire was matched by his passion for new music. Exiled from the Soviet Union in the 1970s for daring to advocate freedom of expression, Rostropovich later played an active role in Russia’s transition from Communism to democracy. The range and richness of his life and art are expressed in the magnificently varied music in this 3-CD collection.
Nicholas Isherwood made his début as Lucifer in Stockhausen’s Donnerstag aus Licht at Covent Garden, at the age of 25, and has since collaborated closely with composers such as George Crumb, Hans Werner Henze, György Kurtág and Iannis Xenakis. His relationship with John Cage soon developed into what he in his liner notes to the disc calls ‘a love affair’. The composer Sylvano Bussotti has remarked that ‘since the passing of Cathy Berberian, Nicholas Isherwood is the singer who best understands the spirit of the music of John Cage’. On ARIA, Isherwood presents most of Cage’s music for solo voice that is not included in the composer’s Song Books, and most pieces are here recorded for the first time by a male singer. The programme covers 43 years, from A Chant with Claps from the early 1940s to Ryoanji and Sonnekus2 of the 1980s, and includes the celebrated Aria, here performed with a new multi-channel tape realization of Cage’s Fontana Mix, by the Italian composer Gianluca Verlingieri.