Great performances, by one of the greatest cellists!
P. Rah | Sion, Switzerland | 04/29/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If there is one word for describing Jacqueline du Pre, it is MUSIC. She was the embodiment of music itself, because she gave all to the music she played. Some do not like her playing because it is too emotional. I echo the other reviewer's sentiments in that music is there to be played. Played with emotion. Music is about transmitting emotion to the listener, and du Pre was one of the best examples of how that could (and should) be done. Here, EMI has remastered and reissued most (I say most, because one concerto - the Lalo- has been omitted in this otherwise full compilation of du Pre's concerto recordings) of du Pre's concerto recordings. The Haydn concerto in C, is undoubtedly one of the most touching accounts, with its romantic sentiments. The same can be said of the Haydn in D and the Monn concerti, with the broad tempi, quite relaxed, and very opposite of Period performances Completely incorrect stylistically, but the performances are so moving and involved that all the fuss about stylistic correctness is throuwn out the window. I dare say that one is not going to get a more impassioned account of the Haydn C major concerto. It is among my absolute favourites. The Boccherini concerto is another matter. The version du Pre plays is not the original, but a mixture of the original, with bits borrowed from other Boccherini cello concertos, combined with Romantic styling by Grutzmacher (the 'editor' of the concerto). I don't like it as much as the Haydn concertos, but still it receives a bravura performance by du Pre with the English Chamber Orchestra under Barenboim. The Schumann and Saint-Saens concerti are unsurpassed for their passion and imaginativeness. The Schumann is tragic, but ends triumphantly, in a way that only du Pre could make it sound like that. The Saint-Saens is a less musically significant piece, but in du Pre's hands, it sounds like an important work. Dvorak's cello concerto is one of the greatest pieces in the cello repertoire, with its grand writing and poignancy. While du Pre's Dvorak concerto is not the best version one can buy, for the recording quality is notoriously horrible, with the orchestra sounding so distant from the cellist (who is placed far too forward) it is certainly one of the most outspoken and yes, impassioned accounts, interpretation-wise. Emotionally, it outdoes the justly famous Rotropovich/Karajan version. But the other Dvorak piece in this collection, the Silent Woods, is so touching that one is bound to cry at some stage of the 6-minute piece. The Delius concerto is a very rhapsodic, but a very engmatic one. Technically it is very demanding, because for once the technical difficulties are really due to the musical difficulties. It is hard to make sense of the work unless you are absolutely sure of its musical structure. But du Pre makes this sound easy, fully capturing the rhapsodic nature of the work, and sings beautifully. It was du Pre's first concerto recording, under one of the most arrogantly aristocratic conductors (arrogant to soloists, I mean, as he didn't regard them highly. But for du Pre, he was more than generous), Malcolm Sargent. The Elgar had to be included, didn't it? I mean, it is one of the great classics of the century. So there is nothing more to say about the Elgar. The Strauss tone-poem Don Quixote is a strange work, because it has a solo cello part (with a solo vioin and viola, who are usually members of the orchestra), a solo part that can be a soloist or the principal cellist from the orchestra cello section. It is strange, because the cello part is the most significant solo part, yet 80 per cent of the time it is outplayed by the orchestra, because the 'solo' cello plays the part of the orchestral cello section. But as to this performance, it was a run-through for a concert. Klemperer was supposed to be the conductor but he pulled out at the last minute and Boult was engaged. This historical recording does not sound like a run-through, although it si a bit messy at times ensemble-wise. But du Pre plays with absolute commitment. Her playing of the Finale must be one of the most poignant ever. The conductor's 'bravo' and the unanimous applause of the orchestra adds to the magic. I apologise for the long review, but if you have read this far, then I will say if you like du Pre and the cello, then this set is essential, and at mid price for CDs that would otherwise be full price and in single CDs, it is a bargain."
Mr JB | Karlskrona Sweden | 06/21/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Jaqueline du Pré was a controversial celloplayer. One thing's for sure - Noone could remain calm upon hearing her - Some liked her, others surely didn't. I'm definately one of those who loves her playing - There's always a huge intenity in every note she plays, Pianos as well as Fortes, no matter how long or short the notes were. You might say that her way of playing was very emotional indeed, to the border of sensuality - that is the reason why some seriousminded persons don't like her playing, they think there's too much of emotions in it. But I love it. Music is made to interpret. And it's hard to find a more personal reading of for example the Haydn and Schumann pieces on this record. It's a real shame that Jaqueline du Pré had to die so young - cause this record reveals a true star full of energy and sensualism. If you like cellomusic and music played with unbeatable feeling for the intrinsical values of the music - this record is a must for you!"
A fitting memorial to a unique artiste
Mr. Ian A. Macfarlane | Fife, Scotland | 02/08/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The keyword with Jacqueline du Pre was always involvement, and so it is here. The performances in this collection are riveting. The Elgar, of course, is one of the most famous performances of all time - young cellist Du Pre with former cellist Barbirolli reaching to the absolute heart of this wonderful music. Though she plays with utmost and unvarying conviction throughout - and therefore these are not middle-of-the-road performances, and it is possible to sense a hothouse element in them as I do in the Haydn and the Monn, where stylistically she is far from faultless - the conviction, sincerity, guts and beauty of the playing carry you (and her) through. Curiously affecting is the end of 'Don Quixote', in a recording, with a bizarre history, which we are really very lucky to have (you can read about it in the set). At the end of a fine and fully characterised run-through, which is all it was, never meant to be issued, she plays with amazing poignancy the touching postlude. The performance ends, the counductor (Boult) shouts 'bravo' and the orchestra claps - it's all there, and we think of poor, wonderful Jacqueline, who never played a dishonest or uncommitted note, we are touched, and we are glad we bought this set!"
Wonderful Concerto Performances
Doc Holliday | Great Northwest | 11/17/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Of the six or seven cd albums that I have by Jacqueline du Pre, this album contains the meat and potatoes of du Pre's repertoire. Happily, she doesn't disappoint at a time when she was still physically healthy and developing musically. The Boccherini Concerto arranged by Grutzmacher, I believe she owns. The Monn Concerto is excellent and the Delius is a romantic dream. Don't miss this one, if you want hear the breadth of her short-lived talent."