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The simple but powerful descending line in the opening of Bach’s Cello Suite #3 invites us into a journey of driving, flowing passages. The key of C major provides maximum resonance as the open strings are used freely to ground and harmonize with the constantly moving melody.

This week’s playlist features cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, one of the most revered cellists of the 20th century. Rostropovich was a soloist, recording artist, and the music director of the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington DC for 17 years, where he presented the best musicians from around the world. His contributions to the cello repertoire are legendary: he performed the premier of over 100 works for cello, many of which he had personally commissioned.

Rostropovich’s interpretation of the 3rd suite is unique among the many recordings of this work: he gives the middle movements fresh energy, taking time to draw out the music to tell the story in his own way.


ST#182 Playlist – Lent 3 includes the Bach  Cello Suite #3 and a wonderful recording of Debussy’s Cello Sonata with Rostropovich accompanied by Benjamin Britten.