A rare chat recorded between two great cellists, Slava and Starker

A rare chat recorded between two great cellists, Slava and Starker


norman lebrecht

July 14, 2020

Guillermo Mireles has dug out a 2001 radio conversation between two cello legends. Slava had flown to Indiana to celebrate Janos’s 75th birthday. The English language somehow survived the dual assault, but the content is rivetting.

Listen here.



  • CelloDan says:

    Wonderful stuff! Two giants recently lost but will never be forgotten.

  • CelloDan says:

    A shame there was no video of this!

  • PhotoEnquiry says:

    Does anyone know who is in the photo above?

  • Luca says:

    I’m afraid I couldn’t understand a word Slava was saying!

  • Peter Chun says:

    Come on, Norman! Starker wielded the English language better than most of us! No “assault” of any kind anywhere…

  • Egar Self says:

    A very interesting, amusing, and reveling colloquy, with a good moderator asking intelligent questions and evoking thoughtful responses. The evident pleasure that both thesee great cellisets took is palpable. Starker indeed is skillful in English, as everyone who reads his autobiography knows, with its several extended original fictional interpolations amply attest, including a futuristic musical science-fiction fantasy and humourous pieces expertly told.

  • MacroV says:

    Fascinating historical document; pity there’s no video. Starker’s English is perfect, and Slava’s is entirely serviceable. But Starker was born in 1924, so he would have been 77 in 2001. Delayed celebration?

    Curious what relationship – if any – these two had; the interview is all chummy, two old masters doing a little mutual admiration. But did they ever work together? Did Slava ever have him play in his many years at the NSO?

  • Peter San Diego says:

    Starker’s and Rostropovich’s comments about Casals’ discomfort with contemporary music, so that he commissioned very few works, reminded me that one composer Casals championed extensively was Emanuel Moór (1863-1931), whose concerto for two cellos and second sonata for cello and piano he played a great deal in the 1910s and 20s. Moór’s idiom is rooted in Romanticism and, in fact, he stopped composing shortly after the end of WWI.

    Those works, along with a suite for 4 celli, have been recently released on the Oehms label.

  • Edgar Self says:

    Right on, San Diego Peter, on Casals and comoposer Emanuel Moor, also Donald Francis Tovey’s cello concerto and Julius Roentgen I think. Moor’s music deserves wider acquaintance, and not just from cellists. There is also the Moor-Bechstein duplex piano with coupleable keyboards permitting spectacular octave effects like harpsichords. Tovey had one with which he stupended visitors. I beliv ill-fated Alexander Kelberine, Jeanne Bhrend’s first husband, recorded Bach on it before killing himself in a fit of depression after a death[themed New York recital.