Largo for cello and orchestra
Largo is a kind of cello concerto
commissioned by the Gesellschaft
der Musikfreunde in Vienna – the venerable Musikverein – and dedicated to
Mstislav Rostropovich. The great cello virtuoso was already very ill when he played
the piece in 2005 and the concert, with a programme including Dvořák’s Cello Concerto, was his farewell
performance, after which he withdrew from concert life. As he said, the cello
would from then on play for him alone.
For some time, Penderecki did not want other musicians to play his Largo. It was only after his famous friend’s death that he decided to arrange a new version of the piece, to be premiered by Ivan Monighetti, Rostropovich’s pupil. Penderecki conducted the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra (PNRSO) during the first performance of the version at the 17th Music Days in Mikołów in 2007. Our recording was made during that concert.
Largo, originally about 20 minutes long, was extended to almost 30 minutes in the new orchestrated version. The title seems rather paradoxical: tThough tempi often change in the piece, largo is not frequent among them. The rhapsodic opening emerges from a dialogue of two cellos, the solo part and that of the concert master. The narration unfolds in beautiful, lyrically peaceful cantilenas. There are, however, several sections of great dramatic power, and even some dance-like episodes.