• WL100/60: Cello Concerto, **14 October 1970

On this day in 1970, Lutosławski’s Cello Concerto was premiered in London’s Royal Festival Hall by Mstislav Rostropovich and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra under Edward Downes.  The work was commissioned by the Royal Philharmonic Society (the first post-war commission to a foreign composer) with funds from the Gulbenkian Foundation.  The work was repeated on the following nights in Bournemouth and Exeter.

The first half of the programme consisted of Balakirev’s symphonic poem Tamara and Lutosławski’s Cello Concerto, followed in the second half by Borodin’s Second Symphony and Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme. Lutosławski wrote in the RPS’s copy of the programme: ‘with my warmest thanks for this unforgettable experience’. In a letter to his Danish publisher, he wrote: ‘Rostropovich is unique and played it as if it were his own work’.

Homma 1993 4

Lutosławski’s Cello Concerto is now the most recorded post-war cello concerto after the two by Shostakovich.  At the latest count, there have been 16 commercial recordings (11 of them since Lutosławski’s death), with at least two more in the pipeline.  There is also more than a handful of recent concert performances available on YouTube and other platforms.  In this centenary year, it looks as if the Cello Concerto will be his most frequently performed work.  It is a remarkable compliment to Lutosławski’s extraordinary music.

Here are the links to the current uploads of complete professional performances:

• Felix Fan/RTVE SO/Adrian Leaper (2002)
• Nicolas Altstaedt/Finnish Radio SO/Dmitri Slobodeniuk (2007)
• Silver Ainomäe/Finnish Radio SO/Dmitri Slobodeniuk (2007)
• Oren Shevlin/WDR SO/Jukka-Pekka Saraste (2011)
• Alexander Baillie/Boston PO/Benjamin Zander (2012)
• Kian Soltani/Helsinki PO/John Storgårds (2013; link broken by mid-December 2013)
• Paul Watkins/BBC SO/Thomas Adès (2013)

One Response to • WL100/60: Cello Concerto, **14 October 1970

  1. Wow! Didn’t know anything about the performance by Baillie/Zander. It looks nice very nice!
    BTW, i can fix the lack of full sync of the Fan/Leaper version…argh!! 🙂

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