A Mongolian “Meditation”

Xian Angelo YuAfter the posts of about the fiery Prokofiev concerto performance from Symphony Hall, thought I’d share another side of the remarkable artistry of the young violinist Xiang “Angelo” Yu.  Last year we invited him into the Fraser Performance Studio at WGBH, where he not only shared the story of his Mongolian origins with host Cathy Fuller, he also played this breathtakingly beautiful version of the Meditation from Jules Massenet’s opera Thaïs…for solo violin alone.

Soon afterwards, Angelo was invited to be a Young Artist in Residence at Performance Today, a series that I’m proud to say continues after we launched it at NPR in the late ’90s with pianist Mia Chung, and has over the years featured such terrific ensembles and artists – all preparing live-for-radio recital programs – as guitarist Jason Vieaux, the Sejong Soloists, the Borromeo and Pacifica Quartets, pianist Jeremy Denk, and many, many more!


Can’t forget to note that today is also the 80th birthday of Russian cellist & conductor Mstislav Rostropovich. Performance Today is doing a series of tributes all this week – today featuring a brief interview with Emerson quartet cellist David Finckel, along with a classic Slava performance (from 1964) of the finale of the Dvorak cello concerto – what critic and author Ted Libbey has called “THE great cello concerto.” Talk about a living legacy… when I produced an interview with Rostropovich at Tanglewood a few years ago he noted that he’s recorded the Dvorak concerto eight times – the first time with the Czech Philharmonic in 1951! Sure enough, he played the Dvorak concerto with the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra that day – and while far from note-perfect, it was classic Rostropovich – warm, big-hearted, and that incredible sound from the upper range of his instrument.
So today I’ll listen to Ted’s pick for the definitive Rostropovich recording – a DG recording from 1968 with the Berlin Philharmonic and Herbert von Karajan – one of the “PT 50″ picks we put together a few years back. There’s also news today that EMI and DG are reissuing a whole bunch of classic Rostropovich recordings – and in fact put his entire EMI catalogue on iTunes – including “11 currently unvailable albums, two of which have never been issued on CD.” And I would remiss if I didn’t note that you can a 1977 recording that’s on DVD.