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Elgar: Cello Concerto; Sea Pictures

Second in popularity only to Dvoraks, Elgars Cello Concerto is a sad and beautiful work written late in life when, in the midst of World War I, it seemed the world Elgar knew was forever lost. Everything good and nice and clean and sweet is far awaynever to return. Its a four-movement concerto that begins with a recitative that conjures up the Bach of the suites for unaccompanied cello. As this somber prologue fades, the violas pick up the main theme of the first movement, a world-weary lament. The four movements unfold from one another to create what amounts to a single rhapsodic thought that strains for hopefulness while never able to break completely free from an abiding sadness. By most accounts, Jacqueline du Pres is the definitive account, and her masterpiece. About the late cellist Dan Barenboim said: She had a capacity that was very rareshe could become one with the music. She didnt have to learn the notes and think what to do with themthere was an immediate reaction to the music, as if she heard what she read. Fifty years on, du Pres account of the Elgar Cello Concerto remains as visceral and heartfelt as ever. It is a totally committed performance, wrote one critic. Every phrase is perfection. While Elgar was not known for song writing, the accompanying Sea Pictures with Dame Janet Baker as soloist, makes a nice companion piece of comparable sensitivity. Check it out!

This is rightly regarded as the finest recording of Elgar’s attractive and elegiac Cello Concerto. It’s held in almost irrationally high esteem in the UK, largely because of the universal affection for Jacqueline Du Pré, the wife of Daniel Barenboim, whose early death from multiple sclerosis cut short what would have been a stellar career. This disc is equally noteworthy for Janet Baker’s magnificent singing of the Sea Pictures, the composer’s only orchestral song cycle. It’s not Elgar’s fault if the tune of the last song sounds like an excessively inflated version of "Hello, Dolly!" A classic then, even if neither work is a raging masterpiece. –David Hurwitz

 

 

 

Elgar: Cello Concerto; Sea Pictures Review

 

very good -Read Reviews-

Has to be the definitive version. Was like hearing it for the first time. Totally superb

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