Washington — Mstislav Rostropovich, a master cellist and the music director of the National Symphony Orchestra, beamed with pleasure when he announced that the orchestra will be host to an ``invasion'' of 500 cellos this June for the first International Cello Conference here. The conductor, speaking vivace in Russian-flecked English, said, ``Our cello group is the best in the world.'' Then he paused. ``I don't like [to] insult other orchestras: One of the best in the world.''
He also spoke at the press conference on the National's 1988-89 season about a new work for 12 cellos, by David Ott, to be performed at the cello congress.
``Slava,'' as Rostropovich is known, talked of the orchestra's plans for a return tour of Europe this summer, beginning with a week in Athens and including possible concerts in Italy, southern France and Spain, which are still under negotiation.
The orchestra will also return to Puerto Rico in mid-June for the Casals Festival. Among the soloists for those concerts will be violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, pianist Eugene Istomin, and soprano Susan Dunn.
Rostropovich was asked if he might be taking the group to the Soviet Union. He said that the invitation must come first, then he would talk, ``but not yet.''
Among the soloists for the 1988-89 season will be pianists Vladmir Ashkenazy, Emanuel Ax, Cristina Ortiz, Maria Joao Pires, and Andr'e Watts, as well as violinists Viktoria Mullova, Elmar Oliveira, Joseph Swensen, Pinchas Zukerman, and the National concertmaster, William Steck.