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Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809)
Cello Concerto No. 1 in C, Hob. VIIb:1 (c.1765)
Cello Concerto No. 2 in D, Hob. VIIb:2 (1783) *
Luigi BOCCHERINI (1743-1805)

Cello Concerto in B flat (c.1770, arr. Grützmacher in 1895)
Jacqueline du Pré, cello
English Chamber Orchestra/Daniel Barenboim
London Symphony Orchestra/Sir John Barbirolli *
Recorded No. 1 Studio, Abbey Road, London, April 1967, December 1967*
Great Recordings of the Century series
EMI CLASSICS 66896 [78:43]

Haydn Comparison: Rostropovich/EMI

These Jacqueline du Pré performances have been classics for decades and now sound better than ever in their latest remastering. Revered for her passion, technical dexterity, and architectural sweep, du Pré put forth her best effort for Haydn and Boccherini in these 1967 interpretations.

I should note that the Boccherini Cello Concerto in B flat that we listen to is not Boccheriniís original composition. In 1895, a German composer and cellist by the name of Friedrich Grützmacher did a major overhaul of the work, giving it a romantic quality Boccherini never would have known. Grützmacher made big adjustments to the outer movements and then removed the slow movement and replaced it with a more intense Adagio from a different Boccherini concerto. Regardless of its processing, Grützmacherís arrangement made the B flat Concerto the best known of Boccheriniís orchestral works.

For those not familiar with these du Pré recordings, you can expect technical wizardry and great passion with a Romantic era orientation. EMI Classics has another set of legendary Haydn Cello Concertos courtesy of Mstislav Rostropovich. Both are full body performances that might make a dedicated HIP fan rather uncomfortable. However, Rostropovich and du Pré are not carbon copies. Rostropovich is not as romantically inclined as du Pré, delivering a more rugged interpretation of manly proportions. Although I prefer Rostropovich by a small margin, itís best to simply note that these two recordings are the cream of the crop among modern instrument performances taking the traditional approach. Both conductors direct expertly, but I do find that Iona Brown places greater priority than Barenboim on moving the music forward.

The du Pré disc does have a couple of advantages over the Rostropovich. She doesnít use the wayward cadenzas of Benjamin Britten, and the Rostropovich offers no music beyond the two Haydn Cello Concertos.

Haydnís concertos, excepting perhaps for his Concerto for Trumpet, are not among his most popular compositions. However, I do feel that the Cello Concertos, particularly the C major, merit as much attention as the best works from his other categories. In this context, both the du Pre and Rostropovich EMI recordings are an essential component of a Haydn enthusiastís music library. If you only want one of these two recordings, simply let the degree of your romantic urges guide you to the right disc for you.

Don Satz


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