Elgar Cello Concerto: The classic interpretation

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Jacqueline du Pré’s 1965 recording of Elgar’s Cello Concerto set the benchmark for every cellist who followed her. Tully Potter explores the enduring popularity of her powerful and iconic performance

Although Jacqueline du Pré was not the first great player to record Elgar’s Cello Concerto, the performance that she, the London Symphony Orchestra and John Barbirolli set down on 19 August 1965 became an instant classic. The first two movements, taped virtually in one take, provoked applause from the orchestra, who had been grumpy at the start of the morning. Word got around EMI that something special was going on at Kingsway Hall, London, and by the end of the afternoon many staff were sitting at the back of the venerable venue (now replaced, like St James’s Hall and Queen’s Hall, by a hotel). With a sympathetic producer, Ronald Kinloch Anderson, an expert engineer, Christopher Parker, and a well-established rapport between 20-year-old soloist and veteran conductor, the auguries were good.

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