The work was composed in 1933-38 for one of the greatest cellists of the 20th century, Gregor Piatigorsky. McBurney explains that, "somehow this concerto had come to seem jinxed to the composer. And when, in 1947, he heard it in Moscow once again, this time played by the young Mstislav Rostropovich, he decided to recast it (albeit using much of the same material) as an entirely new piece, the Sinfonia Concertante, op 125. The earlier version never entirely disappeared, however, with a scattering of cellists always preferring it to the later one. And in recent years, it has found new favour and new champions, its spectacularly difficult cello writing and virtuosic orchestral effects offering a brilliance, pungency and fascination all of their own."