December 01, 2016

How Rostropovich found the perfect place to record his Bach Cello Suites

25 years after he made this iconic recording, we revisit Rostropovich's choice of church, in his own words.

How did Mstislav Rostropovich choose “the right place” to record and film the Bach Cello Suites 25 years ago?

"The final chord brings my great task to its conclusion in this church in the wonderful small French town of Vézelay.

"Night has fallen – it’s cold. There’s a special feeling about being in such a large church alone at night, a church built 900 years ago. It’s very cold but one is warmed by the human spirit of those people who devoted their incredible efforts to creating this church which they dedicated to Mary Magdalene.

"I would like to tell you why it is here in Vézelay, in this particular church, that I have chosen to take such a bold step and record the suites.

"When I first entered this church I saw the rhythm of the internal architecture shorn of all superfluity, with none of the gilt and ornamental trimmings of the Baroque style.

"I saw the severity of line and the rhythm of this vaulted construction, which reminds me so powerfully of the rhythm of Bach’s music. It seemed to me that I had found the right place." -Mstislav Rostropovich

Rostropovich made his iconic recording of the Bach Cello Suites 25 years ago in Vézelay. It has been reissued in a collectors' 4LP vinyl box set.