We have been informed of the death, from cancer, of the leading Russian cellist, Alexander Ivashkin. Sasha was 65 and active to the last as a performer and teacher. He gave more than 50 world premieres and wrote around 20 books.
Living in London for the past quarter-century, Sasha recorded for Chandos, BMG, Naxos and Brilliant the complete cello music by Rachmaninov, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Roslavets, Tcherepnine, Gubaidulina, Schnittke and Kancheli. His latest recording contains the world premiere of early pieces by Benjamin Britten.
I got to know Sasha in the early 1990s while commissioning a series of 20th century composer biographies for Phaidon. He was living in New Zealand, on the other side of the clock, and much of our communication was by overnight fax. But we struck up a swift and easy rapport and worked together with mutual pleasure. His book on Alfred Schnittke, published in 1996, was the first to appear in any language outside Russia. It remains a treasure trove of exclusive information.
Sasha was close to Schnittke and remained friendly with his widow, Irina. A favourite student of Mstislav Rostropovich, he seemed to know everyone in Russian music. He taught at Goldsmiths College, organised festivals all over the world and lived to the full a life that was cut far too short.
I am deeply saddened by the loss of a brilliant performer, restless activist and good friend. My heart goes out to his widow, Natasha.