Do you consider Mstislav Rostropovich to have been the greatest cellist of all time?
That’s a difficult question, because if I say yes, I would exclude Pablo Casals. But I think Rostropovich had the greatest influence on the cello. Not only was he, let’s say one of the greatest cellists of his time – we entitled our box “Cellist of the Century” – but what is very special about Rostropovich is that he created, and encouraged a lot of repertoire to be created, for the cello. He was the dedicatee of more than 250 works, which is absolutely huge. So not only is he one of the best cellists in history, he created the most important chunk of repertoire.
How significant was the extent of that expansion of the repertoire?
For cellists today, Rostropovich’s influence is absolutely enormous. If you look at the works created by Shostakovich, Prokofiev, and Khachaturian when he was in the USSR, and then all the work he created by composers like Dutilleux and Gubaidulina, now they’re really pillars of the repertoire. So in this sense, his influence remains.
With so many works...