This is the first of a series of posts I intend to prepare in which I will feature historic instruments, and the well-known artists who performed on them.
The first post in this series is about the so-called Davidoff Cello, and one of its owners, British cellist Jacqueline du Pré.
This instrument was made in 1712 by the Italian instrument maker, Antonio Stradivari of Cremona, Italy. The name associated with this cello is derived from the fact that it was given to Karl Davydov (1838–1889) by patron Count Matvei Wielhorski (1794–1866).
Davydov was a Russian cellist of great renown at the time, described as the “czar of cellists” by Tchaikovsky. The cello body has a few marks and scratches on it, due to mishandling from this period.
Many years later, the cello was purchased by Ismena Holland, who — in turn — presented the instrument to her goddaughter, the English cellist, Jacqueline du Pré.
Jacqueline Du Pré was born in Oxford, England, and at the age of four du Pré is said to have heard the sound of the cello on the radio and asked her mother for “one of those”. Lessons and training followed.
In March 1961, at the age of 16, du Pré made her formal début, at Wigmore Hall, London. She made her concerto début in 1962 at the Royal Festival Hall, playing the Elgar Cello Concerto with the BBC Symphony Orchestra.
In 1965, at age 20, du Pré recorded the Elgar Concerto for EMI with the London Symphony Orchestra and Sir John Barbirolli, which brought her international recognition. This recording has become a benchmark for the work, which has never been out of the catalog since its original release.
She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in October 1973, and she died in London on the 19th of October, 1987 at the age of 42.
I love her interpretation because of its great power, passion, and sensitivity. Her tone was wonderfully warm. Many other artists have attempted to duplicate her style, but my sense is that Ms. du Pre was unique.
Here is a recording of the Cello Concerto by Edward Elgar, as performed by Jacqueline du Pré:
The photo of the multiple-CD collection of her work is seen at the left side.
This is an absolutely outstanding set of her recordings of the following works:
Elgar: Cello Concerto in E minor, Op.85
Delius: Cello Concerto
Saint-Saens: Cello Concerto No.1 in A minor, Op.33
Saint-Saens: Carnaval des animaux – Le cynge
Dvorak: Cello Concerto in B minor, Op.104
Dvorak: Silent Woods Op.68
Schumann: Cello Concerto in A minor, Op.129
Schumann: Fantasiestucke, Op.73
Monn: Cello Concerto in G minor
Haydn: the two Cello Concertos
Beethoven: Variations, all the Piano Trios, and all the Cello Sonatas (with Barenboim and Zukerman)
Brahms: The three Cello Sonatas
J S Bach: Cello Suites Nos.1&2; Viola da gamba Sonata No.2 in D;
Chopin: Cello Sonata in G minor, Op.65
Franck: Cello Sonata in A (arr. Delsart)
Handel: Sonata in G minor HWV287 (arr. J W Slatter)
F Couperin: Les Gouts-Reunis (1724) – Treizieme Concert a deux instruments a l’unisson
R Strauss: Don Quixote, Op.35
Lalo: Cello Concerto in D minor
Boccherini: Cello Concerto No.9 in B Flat G.482 (Cadenzas by Grützmacher)
Bruch: Kol Nidrei Op.47
Tchaikovsky: Piano Trio in A minor, Op.50
Mendelssohn: Song without Words in D, Op.109
Faure: Elegie in C minor, Op.24
Falla: Suite populaire espagnole – Jota (arr. Maurice Marechal)
Britten: Cello Sonata in C, Op.65 : II – Scherzo: Pizzicato / IV – Marcia
Paradis: Sicilienne (arr. Dushkin)
Tags: Instrument, artists, cello, Jacqueline du Pré, Davidoff, Elgar Concerto