Composers / Witold Lutosławski / Places catalog
In 1977, as part of an international festival of contemporary art organised in La Rochelle – a fashionable resort on the Bay of Biscay – the first edition of the Mstislav Rostropovich Cello Competition was held. On leaving the Soviet Union, the outstanding cellist lived in France. The jury assessing the abilities of around thirty young musicians comprised three composers whose works were performed during the competition: Henri Dutilleux, Witold Lutosławski and Iannis Xenakis. The winner was the Spanish cellist Lluís Claret, who chose to play Lutosławski’s work.
‘It so happened that one day my concerto was played with an orchestra from Lorraine, as part of a competition, by the winner Lluís Claret and the next day Slava [Rostropovich] played it with me in a festival, with the Dutch Hilversum Radio Orchestra under my direction – related Lutosławski years later. – Slava must have said to himself: “Now I’ll show them how to play that concerto”. He played it like never before. It was so infectious that I too, conducting the orchestra, almost “fell into a trance”. The orchestra also played in “raptures”. The performance was phenomenal; I’ve never heard anything like it before or since. That is one of the most beautiful memories of my life’.
Beach in La Rochelle. Phot. Gilbert Bochenek. (creative commons)