Record shops placed orders for thousands of CDs even before the movie, Hilary and Jackie, opened on Friday.
But EMI, which opposed the film, is confident that its acclaimed 1965 recording, by du Pre, of Elgar's Cello Concerto will outsell the movie soundtrack issued by Sony.
Sony allowed clips of its 1970 recording of du Pre conducted by her husband Daniel Barenboim to be used by the film-makers and is re-releasing the whole concerto on the soundtrack CD, alongside the film's original score by Barrington Pheloung, the composer of the Inspector Morse television theme.
But it was the EMI version which returned to the classical charts in advance of the film's release, not the soundtrack.
And an EMI insider claimed that anecdotal evidence from sales representatives suggested music shops were encouraging the public to shun the Sony CD.
"The word of mouth is that shop assistants, particularly in the specialist shops, are only pushing our one because they feel so passionately about the film. It's interesting, because they rarely do that," he said.
Julian Lloyd Webber, the cellist who has leapt to the defence of Jacqueline du Pre and recorded his own tribute, Jackie's Song, in protest, said: "If people buy the soundtrack, they are buying the wrong version. They should buy the EMI with [the conductor Sir John] Barbirolli which is the classic recording." Mr Lloyd Webber said he suspected Daniel Barenboim must be unhappy with Sony. "I wouldn't think he's over the moon. I wouldn't think he would be recording much with them in future."
Lloyd Webber is also furious that the film-makers are now using his comments about the movie to publicise it.
EMI Classics hold most of the back catalogue to du Pre's performances and was adamant it would not release any of it to the makers of Hilary and Jackie.
Du Pre's friends and admirers had condemned the film's source, a book called A Genius in the Family by the cellist's siblings Hilary and Piers, as a jealous attack on her reputation.
Simon Millward, head of EMI Classics press, said many people at the company had reservations about the book and film. "It wasn't something to be associated with. We took a strong moral stance."
But they had produced a new sleeve for the CD in anticipation of interest as a result of the film and had already received several large orders.
"The Elgar is the main piece of music that comes back and back in the film. What we all hope, not just for commercial reasons, is that people will want to hear Jacqueline du Pre playing it. The thing about this recording is that she was obviously very young (aged 20) and it has so much passion and wildness and an emotional quality."
There were people working at EMI who could remember du Pre, before she was struck down with multiple sclerosis and died in 1987 aged 42. "People who have been here for many years get very tearful at the mention of her name," he said.
But a Sony spokeswoman said the du Pre/Barenboim recording had always been one of its best sellers and they expected the new release to do well. "If the film makes a few more people out there realise who she was, that's good," she said.
Tony Shaw, in charge of classical products for HMV record stores, has placed large orders for both recordings. He said he expected du Pre and all works by Elgar would benefit from an explosion of interest even greater than that in Australian pianist David Helfgott and the works of Rachmaninov, which followed the film Shine two years ago.Reuse content