Haydn: Cello Concertos Nos. 1 & 2 Boccherini: Cello Concerto in B flat. Jacqueline du Pre, cello; Daniel Barenboim, English Chamber Orchestra; Sir John Barbirolli, London Symphony Orchestra. EMI CDU 7243-5-66948.
Owing to the popularity of the recent movie about her, Jacqueline du Pre's work is being given a deserved new life. After her tragic death in 1973, her legacy was lost to all but avid music lovers. Thanks to EMI's "Great Performances of the Century," her Haydn and Boccherini are now remastered and sound better than ever.
Her style, as always, is sweetly expressive, warmly singing, broadly passionate, and perhaps by today's standards a little old-fashioned. Certainly, that's the way the music comes off compared to the less-adorned period-instrument renditions. She is best in both of the Haydn slow movements, where her natural affection for the music and for her instrument shine through most effectively. The finale of the first concerto is a delight, too, full of youthful intensity and exuberance. The Boccherini is another story, through no fault of Ms. du Pre. In its familiar late-Romantic Grutzmacher arrangement, any resemblance between this piece and Boccherini is purely coincidental. It is so lushly orchestrated it could hardly be called Boccherini, and Ms. du Pre plays it in appropriate 19th-century fashion, long-winded and luxuriant.
The newly remastered sound of the first Haydn concerto and the Boccherini, recorded with Ms. du Pre's husband Daniel Barenboim and the English Chamber Orchestra in 1967, is ultra smooth and adequately revealing. It is not so clear, however, as either of the newest releases I reviewed recently from Chang-Sinopoli (EMI) or Isserlis-Norrington (RCA), although it is closer to Chang in performance and closer to Isserlis in audio quality. The sound in the second Haydn concerto, recorded a few months later with Sir John Barbirolli and the LSO, is very slightly better defined. None of this matters much as the ear adjusts quickly to the beauty of the playing rather than reflecting on any sonic imperfections. Besides, unless you were to put on the newer discs as I did for direct comparison in two identical-sounding CD players, you would find little fault in the sound of the 30-year-old recordings. Du Pre gets my whole-hearted endorsement.
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|Article Type:||Sound Recording Review|
|Date:||Dec 1, 1999|
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