On 29th March the Grand Hall of the Moscow Conservatoire hosted a concert by the National Symphony Orchestra (NSO)

The American orchestra returned to Russia after a long while: last time the Russian audience could enjoy its sound in 1993, when the orchestra gave its historic concert in Red Square under the baton of Mstislav Rostropovich.

Within the Mstislav Rostropovich Festival, the NSO will perform twice in Moscow and once in St. Petersburg, at the St. Petersburg Philharmonia. Some of the orchestra's musicians played in the orchestra during Mstislav Leopoldovich's tenure; for them, the opportunity to return to Russia and play at the Festival in honour of the Maestro's 90th birthday anniversary is a great joy. According to cellist William Foster, the time when Rostropovich first conducted the NSO, was the epic moment of the NSO's cellist musical career. Musicians of the NSO remember with reverence and gratitude «the Rostropovich era», which changed once and forever the orchestra's sound, turning the NSO into the one of the major American and international orchestras.

At the rehearsal, Olga Rostropovich, Artistic Director of the Festival gave a warm welcome to the musicians and expressed her joy over their arrival. Starting the rehearsal, the NSO Music Director Christoph Eschenbach said that for the whole orchestra as well as for him personally, it is a great happiness to be here and play in memory of the great Rostropovich.

The concert opened with Old and Lost Rivers, a piece by contemporary American composer Tobias Picker. Then Alisa Weilerstein performed Shostakovich's First Cello Concerto, machless in its musical power, which the great composer once dedicated to Rostropovich. It is noteworthy that it was not until the Rostropovich's arrival to the NSO that the orchestra was introduced to the music of this Russian composer: Mstislav Leopoldovich instilled the NSO the love for the Russian repertoire and the ability to create and convey its unique sound. After the intermission, the NSO musicians performed Schubert's Symphony No. 9, which Maestro Rostropovich conducted on different occasions.

At the end of the concert, the audience welcomed musicians with a long standing ovation to express their appreciation and to thank the musicians for the utmost beauty of their performance.

Tomorrow, on 30th March, the National Symphony Orchestra will offer another performance to the Moscow audience, playing pieces by Elgar, Shostakovich and Picker.

© International Rostropovich Festival “Mstislav Rostropovich Week”, 2010 — 2017