Friendship suffuses Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra concert

| Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, 8:56 p.m.

Musical friendships are usually behind the curtain, but they permeate the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra's first concerts of 2013.

Composing music is fundamentally solitary work, for example, but both composers had other musicians in mind when they wrote the pieces that fill the program.

Then, too, the guest conductor and guest soloist have been friends for more than two decades, and had dinner together with their families on Jan. 2.

Cellist Enrico Dindo makes his debut with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra conducted by Gianandrea Noseda at concerts Friday and Sunday at Heinz Hall, Downtown. The program is Dmitri Shostakovich's Cello Concerto No. 2 and Antonin Dvorak's Symphony No. 7.

Dindo, 47, comes from a musical family, siblings as well as parents. He became principal cellist of the La Scala Orchestra in Milan when he was 22. But his life really changed when he won the Rostropovich International Competition in Paris in 1997.

“I was very happy to spend 11 years in that very great orchestra,” he says. “It was an opportunity to listen to a lot of wonderful singers and players and conductors. It was an amazing school for me.”

The workload at La Scala, one of the world's top opera houses, is heavy, which made finding the many hours of practice necessary before a competition hard to find. Winning first prize turned out to mean a lot more than Dindo expected.

The competition was named for legendary Russian cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, for whom Sergei Prokofiev wrote his Sinfonia concertante and Shostakovich both his cello concerti and other pieces. Rostropovich, who died in 2007, last performed with the Pittsburgh Symphony, as cellist and conductor in 2003.

“Not only musically but in a human way, it was very important for me to have contact with this great man,” Dindo says. “Before I met him, he was, for me, a cellistic icon. I had posters in my bedroom, LPs and CDs — I knew everything about his recordings.”

After winning the competition, Dindo had lunches and dinners with Rostropovich, at which they discussed cello repertoire, including both Shostakovich cello concerti. They also gave concerts together.

“From '97, when I had this chance, my view of my musical life changed, because I finally understood how much generosity (we must bring to sharing) our sentiments and feelings with the audience, the people who share with us in the moment. Slava showed me that,” he says. “I was very, very lucky.”

Slava was Rostropovich's Russian nickname, and means “glory” in English.

Noseda, who has recorded both Shostakovich concerti with Dindo, is looking forward to performing Dvorak's Seventh Symphony with the Pittsburgh Symphony.

“I don't know if it's the most beautiful or best one, but (the last three) are the masterpieces among his symphonic output,” he says. “The color of Symphony No. 7 is particularly passionate and dramatic. The color is darker than No. 8 or No. 9. The quality of the writing is more extreme and more modern. That's what very interesting and very difficult for the orchestra. It's very virtuosic. That's why I like to do this symphony when I work with artists like the ones you have in the Pittsburgh Symphony.”

Mark Kanny is classical music critic for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7877 or

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