Benjamin Britten and Mstistlav Rostropovich were close friends. Britten wrote a number of major works for his friend, including the Cello Sonata. Rostropovich took up the role of teacher, mentor, and guardian to the young Latvian cellist Mischa Maisky. After being held captive in a work camp for eighteen months by the Soviet regime, Maisky got a chance to emigrate to Israel.
Matt Haimovitz, born in Israel but raised in the United States, will play the most concise sonata by Beethoven, in addition to two pop songs by persecuted musicians from the Soviet Union and Russia. Viktor Tsoi was a rock singer and cult figure whose bold lyrics regularly vexed the authorities in the second half of the last century. Like with Pussy Riot, this led to the banning of performances and imprisonment.