Everyone’s classical music favourite, The Lark Ascending by Ralph Vaughan Williams, had to be the first in my week of much loved work by English classical music composers. The work is number 1 in Classical FM’s Hall of Fame chart.
Today, it’s the Jacqueline du Pré performance of Edward Elgar’s Cello Concerto in E Minor, Op. 85. I’ve struggled to decide which of her performances of the cello concerto, available on YouTube, to select. The performance preferred, listed as number 11 in the Classical FM Hall of Fame chart, by the cognoscenti is that with Sir John Barbirolli and the London Symphony Orchestra in 1965. Barbirolli’s being a cellist, gives the performance a subtlety missing in the Daniel Barenboim recording – though that’s marginal to my untutored ear.
I could easily have chosen Julian Lloyd Webber’s 1986 performance with Sir Yehudi Menuhin, also available on YouTube. I’ve chosen the Barenboim recording because seeing du Pré perform the work adds to its eloquence and virtuosity. For me, there’s an emotional rawness to her performance, which captivates.