The Singing Cello of Gregor Piatigorsky

Ghenady Meirson
Submitted: Sun, October 6, 2013 - 6:24am EDT

I haven't had the opportunity to hear cellist Gregor Piatigorsky (1903-1976) in a live concert. A good colleague of mine attended his concerts and described a scene where this big Russian man would go on stage holding the cello in the left hand over the heads of orchestra violin section players. That's strength and confidence. The moment Piatigorsky sat down, he was already playing.

In this movie clip, Piatigorsky is playing Anton Rubinstein's "Romance". This is originally a song/romance entitled "Night" Op. 48, set to Alexander Pushkin's poem. I assign this song to my vocal students every opportunity I have.

Instrumental versions simply call it a Romance, which means a sentimental song a.k.a. an Old Russian Romance.

Piatigorsky's performance in this video clip is quite breathtaking. His velvet tone simply sings through the cello to express the song's sentiment. In this case, words are unnecessary.

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Gregor Piatigorsky plays Rubinstein "Romance"