Here we have one of the most interesting DVD available in classical music. A documentary about Jaqueline du Pre's life and art, joining together some of the most important people in her life, like her parents, her first personal teacher, William Pleeth (her mother was really the first one who introduced Jacqueline into the world of music, as she tells in the images), her husband, Daniel Barenboim and a couple of musicians that take part in the Jacqueline's career, that brief voyage through the cello notes in a kind of magical ships, like her art was, a magician that took with her all those who listen her performances of orchestral and chamber music.
The DVD is part of a large collection of recorded music and documentaries shot by the very music knower Christopher Nupen, who had worked too with artists son great like Ashkenazy, Barenboim, Kissin... Apart from two Spanish musicians; Segovia and Halffter whom I hope will be soon on DVD like Jacqueline du Pre is now. All the documentaries, and this one too, seems to be done with a large understanding of the music by Mr. Nupen, together with a deep knowledge of what an artist is; something very important to analyse them as humans beings, and not like the `divas' others shows in many cases. The DVD is very generous in showing us lot of trailers of this Nupen's recordings, which I hope will be released in the next months or years.
The main documentary is shot in black and white and begins in the very childhood of Jacqueline du Pre, from the time she was a child. We can watch her pictures, her drawings, the first scores her mother composed to her with easy and lovely tunes... Du Pre talks about how much important this period was for her loving the music and specially the cello. We continue passing through her early years as student, listening Pleeth to explain how did he work with her, a girl defined by the English cellist as a gift of the nature, a talent that gave always a bit more in every step they gave together making music. The next years, when she knew Casals, Tortelier or Rostropovich are not very largely explained, but we have notice about them, like about her debut on the stage and on TV, as we can watch in this DVD together with her mother.
As this DVD wants to celebrate her career and her talent, Nupen don't abuse of talking about her illness very much, a multiple sclerosis that attacked her at 28. Anyway, some shots are shown from his last years, images not usually seen of the myth and that shows her still in love with the music, teaching the new cellists how to play, feel and understand the Cello Concerto, that one which is the main in her career. Watching her eyes, the way she regards the scores, the young man is breathtaking, as you can feel how much love is still in her own and how much desire and longing of playing she has. On the other hand, Du Pre is presented like the very fighter woman she was, working for improve the knowledge and treatments of her illness; probably the last and great concert and performing of her life. It's sad to watch this part, but as art is part of life it embraces everything and her courage is great enough to be known even in this way.
The two performances we can watch and listen in this DVD are the Cello Concerto by Elgar and the Piano Trio "The Ghost", by Beethoven, two wonderful pieces of some of her most loved composers (we have to remember her long relation with the Elgar Concerto, I know at least 4 different recordings -Celibidache, Barenboim DVD & CD & Barbirolli- ; like her very well known playing of Beethoven Chamber Music with her husband Daniel Barnboim for EMI).
The Elgar Concerto is her speciality, a mature piece she understood since she was quite a teenager, and which she gave new life and sense in its melancholic and magical style, full, of lyrics and desire of enjoining a life that is going. The performance is a bit more mature of the other CD recordings that I know, specially in du Pre's hands; she shows herself more introspective and technical, but, of course, never forgetting her very passion and romantic style which admires everybody. Barenboim conducting is very clear and precise, and the understanding between them is a real chapter in the history of music. Superb and outstanding version.
The Ghost Trio is a piece described as one of the most impressive documents of music ever recorded and filmed. Based on the communication of the players, most of them by the looks and the eyes, and because of them instinctive playing, the film shows the most incredible performance of the work I know, even better than the recording they made for EMI. Romantic and perfect Beethoven.
The recordings are good for being from that time, specially Beethoven's Trio, that has quite good sound.
In sum, a DVD for not to be missed, a jewel for all the lovers of classical music and specially for those who love the cello and this outstanding and sadness brief artist that was Jacqueline du Pre, a miracle of communication and an inspiring example even decades after she died, at least in her human form.