How did you get involved with the film, Dvorak - In Love?
Well, it’s a long time ago now – 1988 I think it was. The Dvorak Concerto is regarded as the king of cello pieces really; it’s the greatest concerto, and this was actually recorded in the hall that it would have first been performed in, so it was an extraordinary feeling for me because it’s the kind of thing you dream of doing as a student, and are not sure if something like that would ever happen. But there I am in Prague in the hall where the piece was first heard, in 18... something, and recording it with a Czech Philharmonic. It was just amazing, and basically the film is around that.
How did Prague change between the 1980s and your later visits?
The fascinating thing for me was that was my first visit to Prague and it was in the Communist regime. Having made the recording, I went back roughly two years later. And then of course the whole city had changed. When we were there, there was only one hotel where they would put Westerners; there was lots of taping going on in the rooms and there was lots of surveillance.
You first picked up the cello at four years old. did you realise then that’s what you wanted to do?
No, no. I always enjoyed playing, but you can’t say at the age of four, ‘That is my life’. That came when I was about 13; I decided then I wanted to make the cello my career, and a lot of things happened to bring that about. I had some great teachers, which is hugely important; who teaches you sets the whole theme really. I was very lucky there, and I just decided that is what I wanted to do for myself. I always enjoyed playing. It was a hobby for me.
When you saw the great Russian cellist Mstislav Rostropovich play, was that an epiphany moment?
Yeah, because he played in a way that I had never seen before. I had been taken to hear a lot of good cellists, but Rostropovich was the one that made a big impression on me. He played with such passion and power and authority and I just thought he was the greatest cellist I had ever seen. There was no question about that.
Since suffering a herniated disc in your neck, how are you health wise?
I’m ‘fine’. The thing is I just can’t play like I used to, so for me the film coming out at this point is quite poignant really because it brings back a lot of memories for me. I’m very happy that it’s coming out.