The works selected for the program are a great challenge to every cello player. They were first performed by the famous Mstislav Rostropovich (the Concert) and Victor Kubatski (the Sonata) – one of the founders of the first string quartet, the Stradivarius. A period of 25 years divided the creation of the Sonata (1934) and the Concert (1959). During this period Shostakovich’s music was both recognized and rejected, which was a result of the atmosphere in which he lived. Nevertheless, Shostakovich remained true to the high ideals of the Russian intelligentsia. During one of his most difficult periods, he wrote the suite of pieces to the film “The Gadfly” and the Ballet suites (between 1951 and 1955).
The program selected features different stages in the work of Dmitri Shostakovich. In Alexander Somov’s interpretation the music flows freely, with direction and confidence and an amazing maturity for his age. Somov was born in Sofia into a family of musicians. While still a student at the music school in Sofia, he concertized throughout Bulgaria, as well as in Germany, Italy, Greece, Spain and Israel. Upon graduation he was awarded a full scholarship to the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London, where he joined the cello class of Prof. Stefan Popov. He continued his successful career by giving concerts in Europe and participating in international festivals. In 1993 he received the first prize and gold medal in the Young Musical Talents National Competition in Sofia; in 1994 he was second prizewinner in the Earth and People International Competition; in 1996 he won the First Alexander Tansman International Competition in Lodz, Poland; in 1997 he took first prize in the International Music Competition of the Polish Cultural Institute in London. He was also a recipient of the Guildhall School of Music & Drama Gold Medal, the highest honour of the British music conservatories. In the year 2000 he was appointed solo cellist of the Northern Sinfonia chamber orchestra in Newcastle.
He is a regular guest principal cellist with the London Philharmonic, Halle Orchestra, and Scottish Chamber Orchestra, and in April 2006 assumed his new post as Violoncelle Super Soliste of the Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg. He is also a professor at the National Conservatory – Strasbourg.
Besides being influenced by his teachers, Stefan Rounevski and Stefan Popov, a support to his development as a cellist has always been his mother, the pianist Bogdana Popova, whose teachers were Lydia Kuteva and Tamara Yankova. Popova took her post-graduate studies in the Czech Republic, where she worked with Prof. Karel Yandera and V. Vodrovic. She has performed with great success in Bulgaria and in Italy, France, Germany, Great Britain, Czech Republic and Greece. She has made numerous studio recordings for Bulgarian National Television and Radio, the Balkanton label, Radio Munich, Czech television and the Supraphon label, and the Italian television network (RAI). Currently, Bogdana Popova is a professor in piano at the Bulgarian Academy of Music.
The Bulgarian National Radio Symphony Orchestra, which is one of the country’s oldest and most respected ensembles, also participates in the recording, conducted by Milen Nachev.
DMITRI SHOSTAKOVICH · WORKS FOR CELLO
Concerto No. 1 for Cello and Orchestra in E flat, op. 107
 Allegretto 6’22”
 Moderato 11’47”
 Cadenza 5’36”
 Allegro con moto 5’12”
Sonata in D for Cello and Piano, op. 40
 Moderato 8’38”
 Moderato con moto 3’15”
 Largo 8’09”
 Allegretto 4’34”
Three Pieces to the Film “The Gadfly”
 Contredance 3’14”
 Romance 2’20”
 Nocturne 3’02”
Three Pieces from Ballet Suite
 Elegy 2’20”
 Adagio 5’03”
 Autumn Valse 2’06”
Alexander Somov, cello
Bogdana Popova, piano
Bulgarian National Radio Symphony Orchestra
Milen Nachev, conductor