S0234. JACQUELINE du PRÉ: Suite #1 in G for Cello Unaccompanied; Suite #1 in d for Cello Unaccompanied (both Bach), recorded 1962, BBC Studios; w.Barbirolli Cond. BBC S.O.: Cello Concerto in e (Elgar), Live Performance, 3 Jan., 1967, Prague. (England) Testament Mono / Stereo SBT 1388. Final Sealed Copy! - 749677138820
“...du Pré digs into the opening solo with startling urgency…[and] finds a greater variety of mood in the score. This Testament disc makes public another live document, recorded in Prague with Barbirolli and the BBC Symphony Orchestra….while du Pré was always an electric player, the voltage clearly increased before an audience….I would venture to say…that du Pré…finds a greater variety of mood in the score….highest possible recommendation.”
- Andrew Farach-Colton, GRAMOPHONE, Feb., 2006
“Du Pré recorded the Elgar Cello Concerto twice commercially, and her EMI recording with Barbirolli is rightly regarded as a classic. It has been continuously available since the day it was issued, and it represents the approved interpretation of the conductor and soloist. This live version, recorded in Prague in 1967 in decent broadcast-quality stereo, is virtually identical in all important respects regarding tempi, phrasing, and overall concept.”
- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
“The Elgar Cello Concerto from Jackie du Pré and Barbirolli? What on earth do we need another version of that for? The EMI recording with the same soloist and conductor has been an acknowledged classic of the gramophone from the moment it first appeared. And there's already another version with du Pré and her husband, Daniel Barenboim if you really need an alternative.
But no. estament are absolutely right to have brought this live performance in Prague out of the BBC archives. The EMI performance is already testament to the unique rapport between soloist and conductor, but this performance from a couple of years later takes it all a stage further, particular 'liberties' could be taken. At so many points in the score it is impossible to tell who is leading whom - they are ‘as one’ in the flexibility of tempi and the rubato of both orchestra and solo cello (Barbirolli had himself played the solo part in his youth). The famous du Pré passion is there in spades, but there are also many examples of restraint too - more that in the studio recordings - which make the highpoints seem all the higher. The ‘give and take’ in the first movement is exceptional, the lightness of touch in the second, broadening magnificently for the big tune, unparalleled in my experience. The slow movement always was the heart of a Barbirolli/du Pré performance and never more so than here. The cello sings with, when required, huge tone or a unique fining down to a mere thread of sound and, more to the point, incredible depth of feeling. Portamenti and glissandi, always favoured by Barbirolli in Elgar's music as by the composer himself, are used with great sensitivity to dig deep into the soul of the music. The finale captures the contrast of rhythmic drive and personal communing perfectly, carrying through to that amazing coda where tragedy and reconciliation seem to co-exist on the highest plane of communication.
Yes, there are the occasional moments of ragged ensemble which would probably have been corrected in a studio recording, but they are far outweighed by rewards of music-making of the highest order.
The CD is well worth its price for the Elgar alone, a masterly live performance from Barbirolli and du Pré that succeeds in trumping even their much-loved EMI recording.”
- Ned Ludd