So much great music owes its existence to accidents of fate. In September 1960 the London première of Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No.1 was given by its dedicatee Mstislav Rostropovich in the Royal Festival Hall. The distinguished Russian composer was a great admirer of the music of his younger English contemporary Benjamin Britten and even though the two men had never met Shostakovich invited Britten to sit with him in his box. After the performance Shostakovich introduced Britten to the famously gregarious Rostropovich and the two got on immediately. They parted with a promise from Britten of a new work in response to the cellist’s eager request.
"No one could miss the extraordinary eloquence and projection of British cellist Paul Watkins... his playing had such personality and urgency" Philadelphia Inquirer