Saturday, January 14, 2012

CD 3

The second decade of the twentieth century did not give way to modernism entirely. There was still plenty of romantic music to come. For my next CD I'll choose a romantic classic by an English composer.

In the summer of 1919, at the age of 62, Elgar was in the autumn of his life. He was not in the best of health and writing what would would be his final flourish of great music. The initial theme of his cello concerto came to him as he regained consciousness after an operation to remove an infected tonsil. It is a piece noted for its melancholic and anguished character. Elgar was an old man looking back on his life, deeply affected by the slaughter in the Great War.

In 1965, at the age of 20, with everything to live for, Jacqueline du Pre had already made the work her own. A child prodigy, she had learnt the concerto in 4 days at the age of 13. By the time of her recordng for EMI with Sir John Barbirolli and the LSO (EMI 556 219-2) she had done more to make it a staple of the cello repertoire than perhaps any other soloist, before or since.

More than most leading recordings, this one defines the music it reproduces. du Pre's inclination was towards a very free and personal interpretation. Barbirolli encouraged her to hold back a little, but the result is still a highly individual performance, charged with emotion.

Once again Amazon offered great value at £5.47 - perhaps people don't want to buy older recordings.

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