I have heard sober-minded peo­ple ar­gue that Elgar’s Cel­lo Con­cer­to played by Jac­que­line du Pré is the sin­gle great­est in­stru­men­tal per­for­mance of any piece of mu­sic, any gen­re, any in­stru­men­t, ev­er. I’m not sure I’d go that far, but the claim is not crazy at al­l. For­tu­nate­ly for us, it was cap­tured beau­ti­ful­ly, sound and pic­tures too.

Du Pré was an in­ter­est­ing char­ac­ter, torn away from the world of mu­sic in mid-life by mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis. She led a col­or­ful life, and I re­al­ly en­joyed the 1998 bi­og­ra­phy by her sis­ter Hi­lary, A Ge­nius in the Fam­i­ly: An In­ti­mate Biog­ra­phy of Jacue­line du Pré (al­so sold as Hi­lary and Jack­ie) but I see it’s at least semi-out of print; keep your eyes open in used book­stores.

Jacqueline du Pré

In an ear­li­er blog piece I wrote: “You can get her land­mark record­ing, with her fiancé Daniel Baren­boim con­duct­ing, on any num­ber of dif­fer­ent CDs, and I can’t imag­ine not own­ing it. Aside from the fact that it’s one love­ly tune af­ter an­oth­er, the re­mark­able com­bi­na­tion of Elgar’s clever writ­ing, Du Pré’s ex­plo­sive tone, and some very clever con­duct­ing cre­ate a re­mark­able il­lu­sion that on a few oc­ca­sion­s, she’s play­ing loud­er than the rest of the or­ches­tra put to­geth­er; it’s some­thing to hear.”

I have this per­for­mance on a col­lec­tion named Im­pres­sions, which I high­ly rec­om­mend. All of it is fine, but it’s the first move­ment of the El­gar that will grab you by the heart and not let go for a sec­ond.

This is part of the Song of the Day se­ries (back­ground).

Links · Spo­ti­fy playlist. The first move­ment on Ama­zon, iTunes, Spo­ti­fy. Now, we are blessed in that you can watch her play on YouTube. Sit down and fas­ten your seat-belt. In the bi­og­ra­phy, I read that af­ter each tour, Ms du Pré had to take her cel­lo in­to a luthi­er for re­build and re­pair be­cause she more or less wrecked it with the in­ten­si­ty of her play­ing. Watch this and you can see why.


author · Dad · software · colophon · rights

May 14, 2018
· Arts (11 fragments)
· · Music (95 fragments)
· · · 5 Stars (168 more)
· Song of the Day (134 more)

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