Bad times for the world, but good times for the admirers of
Discophage | France | 10/08/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"These are bad times for the world at large - as I write, the US financial system is threatening a giant systemic collapse, the US are mired in Irak and Afghanistan, with Russia occupying half of Georgia a new Cold War is looming large, Chinese babies are dying by the hundreds from poisoned milk, Iran and Korea won't be stopped from becoming nuke, and Paris Hilton is off her medication again - but these are great times for the music lovers and buyers of CDs (are there many of these left?). Now EMI is releasing these gigantic boxes with the complete EMI recordings of such and such, and at prices so low they are tantamount to steals. This one cost me less than 3 dollars per CD, postage included, and it's even cheaper now on the marketplace, three months later. A complete Karajan is out (88 + 72 CDs in two boxes and I've just bought the first one for 1,70/CD), Oistrakh, Rostropovich, Richter, Marcelle Meyer (and that box adds non-EMI recordings as well, from Hispavox and Columbia), Yves Nat, and Cziffra is announced. What a boon!
More, of course, for those who, for whatever reasons, did NOT already purchase the individual issues or reissues whenever they appeared - which happens to be my case with Du Pré's CDs (choice will be more agonizing for Oistrakh and Cziffra). One possible reason is that Du Pré's choice of repertoire was a little too Catholic for my taste. Had she recorded, say, Bloch's Schelomo and Voice in the Wilderness or Kodaly's Solo Cello Sonata, those are probably CDs I'd already have in my collection. Her Elgar with Barbirolli is considered a benchmark recording - but unlike many I personally don't warm up too much for Elgar's Cello Concerto - and no offense to those who think otherwise. So the only one I had was the Brahms Sonatas with Barenboim.
Fact is, about all the material on this set had been issued or reissued earlier. I can now consider myself fortunate NOT to have bought the 1994 French EMI Introuvables 6-CD set, Les introuvables de Jacqueline du Pré, or earlier discs first released on EMI's mid-price Studio line, of which some found their way on "Introuvables", such as Jacqueline du Pré - Chopin: Cello Sonata in G minor, Franck: Sonata in A / Barenboim, Beethoven: Cello Sonatas 3 & 5 with Stephen Bishop from 1965, Jacqueline du Pré - Her Early BBC Recordings Volume 1 ~ Bach, Falla, Britten / Luch, Kovacevich and Her Early BBC Recordings, Vol. 2 (early BBC recordings from 1962-5). Or again EMI's 1995 CD releasing for the first time the miraculously salvaged tapes of a recording session from 1968 of Strauss' Don Quixote begun under Klemperer and continued under Boult from 1968 (integral with the orchestra's applause at the end), and Lalo's Cello Concerto, recorded live in Cleveland with Barenboim in 1973, two compositions not hitherto in Du Pré's discography (Strauss: Don Quixote; Lalo: Cello Concerto, now on CD 12) or their 2-CD compilation released in 1996 in the UK, Jacqueline du Pré - a lasting inspiration, which had the small but valuable and rare encores now on CD 17. Even the alternative recording of Brahms' two Cello Sonatas with Barenboim, recorded in mono a few months before their official studio recording and used on Christopher Nupen's documentary on Du Pré, featured on CD 15, had been published by EMI in 2002 with the same coupling, Bruch's Kol Nidrei with orchestra, with Barenboim conducting the Israel Philharmonic (Brahms: Cello Sonatas; Bruch: Kol Nidrei; Jacqueline Du Pre).
Ultimately, judging from the copyright dates, the only items that seem to make their first appearance on CD with this set are the alternative recordings of Maria Theresia von Paradis' Sicilienne and Schumann's Fantasiestücke op 73 with Gerald Moore, made on October 8 1963 (CD 17 tracks 12-15). If I understand the copyright indications, these are actually the recordings that were published on LP back then (on a 45 Single, HMV 7EP 7180, an info I retrieved on the Net) and it is earlier and unpublished takes, from July 16 1962, that have been previously issued on CD (CD 17 tracks 1-4). The liner notes are of no use whatsoever on all these matters. They consist of a short eulogy by the same Christopher Nupen who made the above-mentioned documentary of Du Pré.
I am also extraordinarily puzzled by the absence, on CD 5 on my set, of the Adagio and Allegro from Bach's Viola da Gamba Sonata BWV 1028. That was one of Du Pré's first recordings, made in 1962 with harpsichordist Ronald Kinloch Anderson. My puzzlement is even greater as, while it is not featured on the set's track listing on EMI Classics website, it is indeed announced as part of that set on many websites I've checked, along with an alternative recording of Beethoven's 1st Cello Sonata with Barenboim, made in studio in 1971 and which should have been on CD 11 (and who is responsible for the botched track listing on the present entry, I wonder). So what's the deal here? Anyway, as it stands, "complete" this set is not quite.
I won't enter the fray of interpretive comments. There are those who consider these recordings, or some of them, as "definitive", and some who don't. In my case, as I mentioned, Du Pré's repertoire isn't usually the one I am most familiar with. Suffice to say that, whatever one's opinion on her interpretations, they always belong to the "significant" ones, those one needs to have heard and refer to when one has a keen interest in the composition involved.
For that compilation EMI has used whatever remastering they had for their last CD reissue (an info retrieved on EMI Classics website), which means that those with the earlier reissues will find no sonic improvement here. Sonics are variable of course. There is some saturation in the climaxes of Dvorak's Concerto, but I've read that this was always the case. The early BBC recordings as well as those from the film (CD 15) sound distant and hollow. The Beethoven Cello Sonatas were recorded live at the 1970 Edinburgh festival, which had its share of coughers. No big deal in view of the set's significance - and price.
Oh - and the 15-CD Perlman edition (The Perlman Edition (Box Set)) is NOT a complete EMI recordings. So I'll just wait until the economy turns around. Now that's going to take quite some time. "
Great value from a first class artist
J. Grant | North Carolina, USA | 03/18/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Wow! what a bargain. Seventeen discs (about 14 of which are excellent) for around $50 on a major label. All of the concertos are terrific, including her unequaled calling card, the Elgar. The Dvorak & Schumann, while perhaps not as good as Casals or Rostropovich, are still quite appealing. The Haydn and Boccherini are top notch performances, as well as the Beethoven & Brahms sonatas with Barenboim. Also included is an underrated set of Beethoven's piano trios (including the variations) with Barenboim and Zukerman. The only subpar performances in the set are the Franck and Chopin sonatas. It is clear she is struggling with her painful illness (M.S.), which would soon force her into retirement and a tragically early death. All in all, this is a stunning set of stellar recordings showcasing the youthful exhuberance of a highly gifted artist(s). Plus, I got it for $30 at a local store due to torn shrink wrap, which made it an even better bargain. 4 1/2 stars"
A Fitting Memorial to a Great Artist -- and an Astonishing B
Johannes Climacus | Beverly, Massachusetts | 08/19/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"That Jacqueline du Pré was a great musician, as well as an extraordinarily courageous human being, is beyond dispute. Though her recorded legacy, most of which is included in this inexpensive box, tends to be uneven, given the circumstances of a career tragically cut short by a debilitating illness, one must still regard every track as precious.
There are many first-rate performances included here. Her ripely expressive Elgar concerto with Barbirolli is an all-time "classic of the gramophone" (as they would put it in the UK), and many of the other concertante works are given splendidly passionate, deeply expressive treatment by this youthful artist. One might wish for a less fulsome tone in the Haydn, Boccherini-Grützmacher and Monn concerti (listeners concerned for period manners may be put off by Du Pré's heavily romanticized readings), but she triumphs in the Schumann and gives a remarkably involving, if wayward, account of the Dvorák. She is overparted as Strauss's Don Quixote--one of her less successful ventures--but makes ample amends in an elegant live performance of the Lalo Concerto and a fragrantly earthy rendition of the Delius.
It could be argued that Du Pré's finest legacy remains in the field of chamber music, where she consistently engaged in intimate, soulful and playful conversation with some of her closest companions (as well as husband Daniel Barenboim). Here is a veritable treasure trove of trios and sonatas, including stunning live performances of the Beethoven cello sonatas with Barenboim, leaner and more concentrated studio versions of Sonatas 3 & 5 with Stephen Bishop Kovacevich, and a set of Beethoven trios (featuring Zukerman and Barenboim) performed with youthful ardor and gusto, If I am less impressed by her Bach suites 1 & 2 (recorded very early in her career), I found the Handel sonatas quite charming. I was bowled over by the Tchaikovsky trio (with the same personnel as the Beethoven), the Chopin Cello Sonata and the Franck Violin Sonata in transcription (all with Barenboim in youthfully combustible form). Indeed, this is the only version of the Chopin I have heard which convinces me that it belongs in the canon of great chamber works for cello. Her Brahms sonatas (both live and studio) are certainly involving, if at times overheated. It is particularly gratifying to hear Du Pré in some spikier twentieth-century literature, including Britten and de Falla. The shorter, "encore" pieces, though mostly insubstantial, are hugely enjoyable.
In sum, then, this box offers the collector a unique opportunity survey the career of one of the Twentieth Century's most remarkable musical personalities. Despite vicissitudes of live performance (a few slips here and there) and recording (ranging from cloudy to vivid), I recommend this amazingly inexpensive set with the utmost enthusiasm. If, perchance, there are any listeners who have not yet encountered the vibrant artistry of Jacqueline Du Pré, here is your chance to get acquainted--in a rather big way. Rest assured: you won't regret the investment of time and treasure."
A list of the works
K. MIURA | Japan | 04/19/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"CD 1 Edward Elgar Cello Concerto in E minor Op. 85 London Symphony Orchestra Sir John Barbirolli (Recorded: 1965)
Frederick Delius Cello Concerto Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Sir Malcolm Sargent (Recorded: 1965)
Camille Saint-Saens Cello Concerto No. 1 in A minor Op. 33 New Philharmonia Orchestra Daniel Barenboim (Recorded: 1968)
CD 2 Antonin Dvorak Cello Concerto in B minor Op. 104 Chicago Symphony Orchestra Daniel Barenboim (Recorded: 1970)
Robert Schumann Cello Concerto in A minor Op. 129 New Philharmonia Orchestra Daniel Barenboim (Recorded: 1968)
CD 3 Matthias Georg Monn Cello Concerto in G minor London Symphony Orchestra Sir John Barbirolli (Recorded: 1968)
Joseph Haydn Cello Concerto No. 2 in D major Hob. VIIb2 London Symphony Orchestra Sir John Barbirolli (Recorded: 1967)
Joseph Haydn Cello Concerto No. 1 in C major Hob. VIIb1 English Chamber Orchestra Daniel Barenboim (Recorded: 1967)
CD 4 Frederic Chopin Cello Sonata in G minor Op. 65 (Recorded: 1971)
Cesar Franck / arr. Delsart Cello Sonata in A major (after Sonata for violin & piano) Daniel Barenboim, piano (Recorded: 1971)
Max Bruch Kol Nidrei Op. 47 Gerald Moore, piano (Recorded: 1962)
CD 5 Johann Sebastian Bach Cello Suite No. 1 in G major BWV 1007 (Recorded: 1962)
Johann Sebastian Bach Cello Suite No. 2 in D minor BWV 1008 (Recorded: 1962)
Georg Fredric Handel / arr. J W Slatter Sonata in G minor HWV 287 Ernest Lusch, piano (Recorded: 1961)
CD 6 Ludwig van Beethoven Cello Sonata No .1 in F major Op. 5 No. 1 Cello Sonata No. 2 in G minor Op. 5 No. 2 Cello Sonata No. 3 in A major Op. 69 Daniel Barenboim, piano (Recorded: 1970)( Live recording )
CD 7 Ludwig van Beethoven Cello Sonata No. 4 in C major Op. 102 No. 1 Cello Sonata No .5 in D major Op. 102 No. 2 12 Variations in G major on "See the Conqu'ring Hero Comes" from Handel's Judas Maccabaeus WoO 45 7 Variations in E flat major on "Bei Mannern" from Mozart's Die Zauberflote WoO 46 12 Variations in F major on "Ein Madchen oder Weibchen" from Mozart's Die Zauberflote WoO 66 Daniel Barenboim, piano (Recorded: 1970)( Live recording )
CD 8 Ludwig van Beethoven Piano Trio No. 1 in E flat major Op. 1 No. 1 Piano Trio No. 2 in G major Op. 1 No. 2 14 Variations in E flat Op. 44 Pinchas Zukerman, violin Daniel Barenboim, piano (Recorded: 1969 / 70)
CD 9 Ludwig van Beethoven Piano Trio No. 3 in C minor Op. 1 No. 3 Piano Trio No. 6 in B flat major "Archduke" Op. 97 Piano Trio in B flat WoO 39 (1812) - Allegretto Piano Trio in E flat (1784) Hess 84 - Allegretto Pinchas Zukerman, violin Daniel Barenboim, piano (Recorded: 1969 / 70)
CD 10 Ludwig van Beethoven Piano Trio No. 4 in C major "Ghost" Op. 70 No. 1 Piano Trio No. 5 in E flat major Op. 70 No. 2 10 Variations on Muller's song "Ich bin der Schneider Kakadu" Op. 121 Pinchas Zukerman, violin Daniel Barenboim, piano (Recorded: 1969 / 70)
CD 11 Ludwig van Beethoven Piano Trio in E flat major WoO 38(1790 - 91) Pinchas Zukerman, violin Daniel Barenboim, piano (Recorded: 1969 / 70)
Ludwig van Beethoven Clarinet Trio in B flat major Op. 11 Gervase de Peyer, clarinet Daniel Barenboim, piano (Recorded: 1970)
Francois Couperin Les Gouts-Reunis (1724) - Treizieme Concert a deux instruments a l'unisson William Pleeth, cello (Recorded: 1963)
CD 12 Richard Strauss Don Quixote Op. 35 Herbert Downes , viola Desmond Bradley, violin New Philharmonia Orchestra Sir Adrian Boult (Recorded: 1968)
Edouard Lalo Cello Concerto in D minor Cleveland Orchestra Daniel Barenboim (Recorded: 1973)( Live recording )
CD 13 Johannes Brahms Cello Sonata No. 1 in E minor Op. 38 Cello Sonata No. 2 in F major Op. 99 Daniel Barenboim, piano (Recorded: 1968)
Luigi Boccherini Cello Concerto Nr.9 in B flat G 482 English Chamber Orchestra Daniel Barenboim (Recorded: 1967)
CD 14 Ludwig van Beethoven Cello Sonata No. 3 in A major Op. 69 Cello Sonata No .5 in D major Op. 102 No. 2 Stephen Kovacevich, piano (Recorded: 1965)
Manuel de Falla / arr. Maurice Marechal Suite populaire espagnole Ernest Lush, piano (Recorded: 1961)
CD 15 Johannes Brahms Cello Sonata No. 1 in E minor Op. 38 Cello Sonata No. 2 in F major Op. 99 Daniel Barenboim, piano
Max Bruch Kol Nidrei Op. 47 Israel Philharmonic Orchestra Daniel Barenboim (Recorded: 1968)
CD 16 Johannes Brahms Cello Sonata No. 2 in F major Op. 99 Ernest Lush, piano (Recorded: 1962)( Live recording )
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Piano Trio in A minor Op. 50 ("In Memory of a Great Artist") Pinchas Zukerman, violin Daniel Barenboim, piano (Recorded: 1972)( Live recording )
CD 17 Maria Theresia von Paradis / arr. Dushkin Sicilienne Robert Schumann Fantasiestucke Gerald Moore, piano (Recorded: 1962) Felix Mendelssohn Song without Words in D major Op.109 Gerald Moore, piano (Recorded: 1962) Gabriel Faure Elegie in C minor Gerald Moore, piano (Recorded: 1969) Johann Sebastian Bach Toccata, Adagio & Fuge in C major BWV 564 - Adagio Roy Jesson, organ (Recorded: 1962) Camill Saint-Saens Carnaval des animaux - The Swan (Recorded: 1962) Manuel de Falla / arr. Marechal Suite populaire espagnole - Jota John Williams, guitar (Recorded: 1962) Benjamin Britten Cello Sonata in C major Op. 65 - extracts II. Scherzo: Pizzicato IV. Marcia Stephen Kovacevich, piano (Recorded: 1965, MONO) Maria Theresia von Paradis / arr. Dushkin Sicilienne (Recorded: 1963, MONO) Robert Schumann Fantasiestucke Op. 73 Gerald Moore, piano (Recorded: 1963, MONO)"
RIVETING and ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL
G. Engler | The Frigid Northeast | 08/31/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm a piano man. It took me awhile to purchase this box set, but when I noticed the EMI Icon Solomon box set going for around $20 on amazon.uk, I decided to price out this set as well. The price was ridiculous - $30 with free shipping (amazon.uk adjusts the shipping at check out). I got both box sets for a total of $50. That's 25 discs folks. How could I miss?
Well, I couldn't. I was familiar with these reviews on this page. But being a piano guy, I went directly to the du Pre Barenboim Beethoven Sonatas. Heavenly! And I was pleasantly surprised at the very warm, natural sound. The audience coughs that were mentioned in a previous review seem very minor in relation to this being a series of live recordings. The artistry of these performances belies their "live" provenance.
Having heard the Beethoven, I returned to the first disc and hte legendary performance of the Elgar Concerto. I too, have never been overly fond of this piece - but then again, I admit only having heard Yo Yo Ma's youthful recording of it. This recording and performance is in another league altogether - and I enjoyed it immensely.
So it went as I continued to amble through this set. The performances are all on a very, very high level. The recording quality varies from good to excellent.
The value is extraordinary and the performances are noteworthy - and in some case, historic.
We have lost far too many artists at too young an age. Du Pre was among our greatest losses. You owe it to yourself to hear this monument to her artistry."