March 21, 2017

Record Store Day exclusive: rare Rostropovich recording on LP for the first time

This LP of the 1966 premiere of Shostakovich's Cello Concerto No.2 hints at the dark Soviet history of 'bone records'.

“Rostropovich has perfected the art of cello playing.”
Dmitri Shostakovich

In the 1950s Roentgenizdat – or X-ray publishing – became a trend in Soviet counterculture. ‘Bone music’ and ‘rock on ribs’ are two other terms that describe these bootleg recordings of music from the West, ingeniously cut onto X-ray film discarded by hospitals.

This Record Store Day release bears an X-ray image of a spine and pelvis – with a 1966 recording that has its own underground history. When the great cellist Mstislav Rostropovich (1927-2007) was exiled from the USSR in the 1970s, a resourceful Soviet archivist saved the original tape from destruction by hiding it in a mislabeled box. It is Rostropovich’s world-premiere performance of the Cello Concerto No. 2 by his teacher and mentor Dmitri Shostakovich, recorded live in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatoire with the USSR State Symphony Orchestra under Evgeny Svetlanov, on the composer’s 60th birthday.

This is its first ever release on LP, in a numbered, limited-edition pressing of 3,000.

Not only was Rostropovich a towering musician; he became a figure of international humanitarian and political significance when he and his wife, the celebrated soprano Galina Vishnevskaya (1926-2012), were exiled from the Soviet Union in 1974 (and deprived of their Soviet citizenship in 1978) for their support of the dissident writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who won the Nobel Prize in 1970. They left Russia with nothing and did not return until 1990, the era of glasnost and perestroika; Rostropovich played an active role in promoting ideological change during this momentous period in his country’s and the world’s history. In November 1989, at the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall, he gave an impromptu Bach solo recital at the spot known as Checkpoint Charlie.

The release commemorates ten years since the legendary cellist’s death on 27 April 2007, but also a joyous occasion, celebrating the 10th edition of Record Store Day on Saturday 22 April, an international event devoted to supporting independent record stores, artists and vinyl LPs.

Pre-order exclusively at and via selected Record Store Day retailers.

Also available on vinyl: Dvorak & Saint-Saëns Cello Concertos (London Philharmonic, Giulini, 1977).

For more information about other releases in the Warner Classics ‘Rostropovich: Cellist of the Century’ anniversary edition, visit


Record Store Day 2017