The violist and double bassist of Christopher Nupen’s iconic film ‘The Trout’ reminisce about playing chamber music with du Pré

The following is an extract from the article ‘Group Therapy: Jacqueline du Pré’ that appeared in the May 2005 issue. To read the full article, click here


Zukerman, Fred Cattroll

Pinchas Zukerman

’Jackie was the most wonderfully instinctive musician I have ever met. You never felt for a moment that the music she produced did not stylistically belong to that particular work. I suppose you can compare it to a person who can speak many languages perfectly, not only grammatically correctly but sounding just like the people who live in that country. We always seem to be worrying about how Beethoven or Brahms should sound, but to Jackie it just came naturally. Even if she sang Tchaikovsky it sounded like Tchaikovsky, not Jackie.’

’Chamber music was a particular joy as it brought friends around her, and we would play a lot of music together just for pleasure. Those years in London with Barenboim and Jackie were so happy that looking back I feel very fortunate to have been part of her existence. She really did enjoy the recording studio and whether the red light was on or off, she played in just the same personal way. It was a time when studio sound was less clinical than today, which is probably no bad thing for Jackie’s music making We became very used to Jackie’s unorthodox fingering of difficult moments that looked crazy at first; but when cellists try them out they find the passage much easier.’

’As a chamber musician she was always a team member, listening more to our view of the music than stating her own. Jackie was a free spirit who had her own musical voice – no one will ever play with that timbre and unique quality of expression.’


Zubin Mehta


Mehta, Askonas Holt

’Just to play next to Jackie in the ‘Trout’ was a great honour for me as a layman double bass player, and so as not to let her down it meant a lot of practice for me. The recording is a straight concert performance without any corrections, and came out of a desire of five friends just getting together with the idea of playing the work. That was the only time I had the opportunity of playing with her in public.’

’Jackie would always listen to those around her and interact with them when playing concertos. She was just the same in chamber music. If you listen to her concerto performances you find a great deal of chamber music in her playing. She was a fantastic performer who could be very impulsive at times and changed things at a moment’s notice, but she was so totally in control of her instrument that she could take such risks and they always worked out. She did have her own view about the ‘Trout’ that she expressed, but she was a team member’

Read: Group Therapy: Jacqueline du Pré

Read: ‘Nupen, you have found yourself a star’ - working with Jacqueline du Pré

Read: Nupen and du Pré: Golden girl

Watch: The Trout, 1969 with Jacqueline Du Pré, Itzhak Perlman, Daniel Barenboim, Zubin Mehta & Pinchas Zukerman