Classical Music: Replay

Strauss: Don Quixote Lalo: Cello Concerto Jacqueline du Pre (cello), New Philharmonia / Boult; Cleveland Orchestra / Barenboim
Anyone lucky enough to have seen Jacqueline du Pre "live" would happily testify to her warmth, candour and dynamic physical presence. She was a flamboyant force, an "Argerich of the cello" - passionate, volatile and life-affirming. As a recording artist, Du Pre was variably successful, sometimes beyond reasonable expectation (the Elgar Concerto) and sometimes, as in these valuable posthumously released documents, somewhat prone to interpretative extremes.

This Philharmonia Don Quixote was long rumoured to have been conducted by Daniel Barenboim (with additional sessions under Klemperer) although, in the event, I was fascinated to hear the venerable Sir Adrian unfold Strauss's prolix instrumental narrative with such unerring calm. It's a rather casual affair, easy-going and clear-headed, with Du Pre's ardent Don more a voluble commentator than a centre-stage player. Only in the heart-rending death scene (vigorously applauded by Boult and his colleagues) does one sense a true merging of minds, although there's plenty to admire elsewhere, not least an eloquent "Knight's Vigil".

The Lalo performance was something of a miracle, having occurred during a period of remission; and although one should, I suppose, mention moments of suspect intonation, the reading as a whole suggests a transitionary stage in what would probably have become a remarkable interpretation.