translated by E. Thomas Glasow
Amadeus Press, 1995
This nice book collects the conversions that Mstislav Rostropovich and Galina Vishnevskaya had with Claude Samuel in 1982 in Paris, when they still lived in exile after the expulsion from the Soviet Union. If you read French, you will find the original edition under the title Entretiens avec Mstislav Rostropovich et Galina Vishnevskaïa (published by Editions Robert Laffont in 1983).
The main feature of these Conversations is that the book is entirely written as a dialogue to preserve the freshness of the conversations. You may learn the life and career of two of the most outstanding artists of the XX century music directly from them and, if you will “listen” carefully, you will be able to notice that Vishnevskaya is a real primadonna, especially when she tries (and succeeds) to attract all the compliments on herself, while Rostropovich, who always pays for his wife’s behaviour, shows a good humour and a taste for funny anecdotes.
Of course, this book talks about glorious moments, but also of tremendous ones, in particular when the story focuses on the repressive soviet regime. The emblem of this section is Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, helped by the Rostropovichs in his difficult time, with all the consequences it brought to them. There are also accounts, most of all first-hand, of famous and almost legendary Russian composers as Shostakovich and Prokofiev, with whom the Rostropovichs worked and knew personally. Music and theories about its future are also fully discussed.