Israeli cellist Amit Peled displays why he has been compared with the young Mstislav Rostropovich in his Washington Performing Arts Society Kennedy Center debut. A professor at Peabody Conservatory of Music, he makes a strong impression in the world's major concert halls, appearing last season as soloist with more than 20 orchestras, as recital artist at Carnegie Hall, London's Wigmore Hall, Berlin's Konzerthaus and Tel Aviv's Mann Auditorium among others, and as featured artist on television and radio stations worldwide. This coming July, he will join the world famous Polish composer and conductor Krzysztof Penderecki at Chicago's Grant Park Music Festival for a performance of Penderecki's concerto for three cellos and orchestra

Amit Peled

If you go
» Where: Kennedy Center Terrace Theater
» When: 2 p.m., Sunday
» Info: $35; 202-785-9727 or

Peled's Baltimore Symphony debut last season preceded performances with the Taiwan National Symphony and the Jerusalem Symphony. His recent CDs, "The Jewish Soul" and "Cellobration," are highly praised. The diversity of his extensive repertoire is represented in his program Sunday of five works spanning three centuries. They are Sonata in G minor by English composer Henry Eccles (1670-1742), Beethoven's Sonata No. 3, Schumann's Fantasiestuecke, Benjamin Britten's Suite No. 3 and "Five Pieces on Folk Themes" by Georgian composer Sulkhan Tsintsadze (1925-1991).

"This is where the Rostropovich connection begins," Peled said. "Tsintsadze wrote the Five Pieces in 1952 for the great Russian cellist Danill Shaffran. He and Rostropovich, four years younger, had entered three major cello competitions at the outset of their careers and tied for first place prize each time. Hard feelings developed between them. Consequently, after Rostropovich came to the United States, he made sure Shaffran could not get a visa. Shaffran remained in Russia most of his life outside of playing some recitals in Europe.

"They were two very different giants of the cello. I was not familiar with this piece that a friend sent me until I came upon it while going through a pile of music. The five movements are very beautiful and bring to mind the flavor of central Asia."

The Rostropovich connection continues with Britten's suite for solo cello that was written for him and projects the feeling of fantasy and hope. Rostropovich gave the premiere of the work in London, but never played it in Washington.

While growing up in Yizreel, a tiny kibbutz in the north of Israel, Peled began the cello at 10, the age when every child there commences music lessons. His mother wanted him to take accordion, but he chose the cello to be near a girl he admired. By the time she quit lessons, he was hooked on the instrument, listening over and over again to the recordings Rostropovich made in the 1960s.

"He was every cellist's hero for the kind of teacher and performer he was," Peled said. "He was such a perfectionist that nobody today gets even close."

Peled has two rules for his Peabody students: play music you love to give knowledge, and explore each piece to discover what is special about it.

"In the concert hall, I want people to get the vibe of the atmosphere," he said. "They may hear the wrong notes, but I don't mind so long as I don't lose track of my emotions and say what I am trying to say. When you listen to a CD at home, you may relax and enjoy it with a glass of wine; when it's live, you go with what happens."