Notes and Editorial Reviews
It is sad that Jacqueline du Pre herself never heard these magnetic, uniquely intense readings with the extra immediacy of CD. In her last years, as I remember on many visits, there was nothing she loved more than to hear performances she had recorded in her all-too-brief playing career whether in the studio or live. So soon after her death I have been all the more moved the sense of presence conveyed on CD, even welcoming the extraneous noises now given extra prominence, of breathing or of bow catching on string. I have complained in the past about the unduly close balance of the soloist in the Dvorak, but now in context it seems only right, even when there are passages where the orchestra seems to be filtered through a pervading halo of
cello sound. This is Jacqueline du Pre masterful and supreme, totally individual in her expressiveness, and however close the solo instrument seems to be, that never irons out the extreme and intensely beautiful contrasts of dynamic and tone. You really do catch the breath at her pianissimos, and that is something you can rarely say of the virtuoso violinists who favour excessively close balance of the solo instrument.
This coupling of the Dvorak, her last concerto recording with Daniel Barenboim, with the Haydn C major, made several months before they married in the summer of 1967, could not be more apt as a valedictory offering. It is sad to realize that they were made only just over four years apart. Each of these performances now strikes me as even more compelling than I had remembered.
The Dvorak, as individual as any of Rostropovich's many recordings, has a deeply reflective, meditative quality that even he has never surpassed, and the Haydn brings a range of magic colourings coupled with magnificent bravura that in its imagination defies any academic rules of style or authenticity. This is cello-playing so urgent and commanding that there can be no question of self-consciousness in what it tells you, with the slow movement again a deep meditation and the finale, crisply articulated at a hectic speed, sounding joyfully exuberant, never merely breathless. Whatever objections one might make in principle to the balance of the soloist, the warmth and vividness of sound—of the orchestras as well—is what matters in preserving the impact of a unique artist with startling freshness at full involvement.
-- Edward Greenfield, Gramophone [2/1988]
Works on This Recording
Concerto for Cello no 1 in C major, H 7b no 1 by Franz Joseph Haydn
Jacqueline Du Pré (Cello)
English Chamber Orchestra
Written: circa 1761-1765; Eszterhazá, Hungary
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