Exclusively available at iTunes, the bonanza includes eleven currently unavailable albums, two of which have never been issued on CD.
Highlights of the EMI Classics/iTunes download-only tracks include: Richard Strauss's Cello Sonata, recorded in 1974 and never before released on CD; the complete Tchaikovsky Symphonies and Overtures (recorded in 1976) with Rostropovich conducting the London Philharmonic Orchestra; and the Shostakovich Cello Sonata with the composer at the piano, recorded in the late 1950s.
In addition to over 500 individual tracks, EMI is offering a discounted 80-track "Special Edition Bundle," a compilation that offers a musical snapshot of Rostropovich's career. Fifty of the tracks are iTunes exclusives, taken from the 11 unavailable and unreleased albums. The compilation also includes a PDF booklet featuring an introductory note and historic photos from the EMI archives.
William Benthall, director of EMI Classics' digital department, said, "For the first time ever, all of the recordings that this iconic figure made for EMI Classics can be accessed and enjoyed by the public. Many of the unavailable recordings are unique historical documents and will be of great interest to Slava's army of fans and admirers around the world."
In a career as cellist, conductor and pianist spanning 65 years, Rostropovich's musical partners have included (among others) his wife, the soprano Galina Vishnevskaya; violinists David Oistrakh, Maxim Vengerov and Itzhak Perlman; pianist Sviatoslav Richter; and conductors Herbert von Karajan and Carlo Maria Giulini. His friendships and collaborations with many of the 20th century's most important composers, including Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Britten, Bernstein, Messiaen, Dutilleux, Lutoslawski and Penderecki, resulted in the creation of over 240 new works.
Rostropovich's first recording for EMI Classics was the Nikolay Miaskovsky cello concerto in 1956. Since then, his collaboration with EMI has encompassed recordings of works by, among many others, Beethoven, Bloch, Borodin, Brahms, Dutilleux, Dvoršk, Glinka, Haydn, Khachaturian, Lutoslawski, Mussorgsky, Prokofiev, Rimsky-Korsakov, Saint-SaêŠns, Schumann, Shostakovich, Richard Strauss and Tchaikovsky.
Slava fans should also check out the April issue of Gramophone magazine, which features 10 pages of articles about the maestro in honor of his 80th birthday, including a rare recent interview; a journal kept by cellist Steven Isserlis when he spent two weeks with Slava in the U.S., and an excerpt from Elisabeth Wilson's new book about Slava as a teacher.