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Jacqueline du Pré: A Celebration of Her Unique and Enduring Gift
Who Was Jacqueline du Pré? [56:17]
Brahms Interlude [12:00]
Interview with Jacqueline du Pré [14:55]
The Trout Remembered by Jacqueline du Pré [1:16]
Remembering Jacqueline du Pré [56:00]
Lighting Cameraman: David Findlay
Film Editor: Peter Heelas
Written and directed by: Christopher Nupen
NTSC All regions. 2007
ALLEGRO FILMS A07CND [210:00]


In 2004 Jacqueline du Pré fans finally saw the DVD release of Christopher Nupen’s iconic film, Jacqueline du Pré and the Elgar Concerto. A year later, he released The Greatest Love and the Greatest Sorrow, a fascinating and personal film about Schubert, which he coupled with the other acclaimed du Pré film, The Trout. Although these films were finally available on DVD, we du Pré admirers, were acutely aware that Christopher Nupen had made two more recent films about Jackie that were not available on general release. These were Remembering Jacqueline du Pré, made in 1994, and Who Was Jacqueline du Pré, made in 1995.

Now, at last this new DVD, Jacqueline du Pré: A Celebration of Her Unique and Enduring Gift, brings together those two later films and also includes some never-before-released material. These rarities have been eagerly awaited, especially one of them, which has only so far been seen on European television. This film, Who Was Jacqueline du Pré, was made in 1995 because, in the words of Mr. Nupen, "if ever there was an artist who did not deserve the total rubbish with which some of the legends have invested her name, it was Jacqueline du Pré".

The film brings together the group of friends we first met years ago playing "The Trout". Back then they were young and full of future, intoxicated with the joy of making music together. Here we see them, years later, luminaries of the international music scene describing the abyss in the world of music — and their personal lives — left behind by Jackie’s absence. This is Jackie as remembered — and missed — by those who knew her intimately. Daniel Barenboim says he had "never met such a musical conversationalist", to which Zubin Mehta adds that, musically, "she gave and took without ever thinking about it". Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau describes her as being completely direct, never hiding "behind a technical perfection … or an impressive mode of expression …"

Why is it important to remember her as a person as well as a musician? Jacqueline du Pré was a phenomenon, a person so full of the joy of life that she inspired everyone about her. If classical music was, mistakenly, seen as something stuffy and old-fashioned, Jackie, with her youth and enthusiasm changed that. Thousands of people must have come to classical music after seeing her play because she was clearly so vivacious. What she gave was so inspiring and unique that it transcends music. This film is about what Jackie gave to those she knew, and to the rest of us. She showed me that it was possible to make every note of music come from your heart, fresh and unique, woven into poetry that seems to have just been born. Since I first launched the Jacqueline du Pré website in 1995, I have heard from hundreds of people from all over the world, telling how she inspired them musically as well as in life. Interest in Jackie, far from diminishing, seems to grow with time.

Remembering Jacqueline du Pré, released in 1994 and quickly out-of-print, was made from previously-seen footage to celebrate what would have been Jackie's 50th birthday on 26 January 1995. We see new facets of the genius first encountered in the early films. We see her more candidly in snippets of duets with her "cello daddy", William Pleeth, or plucking out pop music on the cello and plunking out Kuhlau at the piano. These films were made long before Jackie became world-famous, so the style is completely natural and unforced, rather like an unusually sophisticated home movie, but that's why they are so precious. Jackie is completely natural and at ease. Yet much of that vivacity would never disappear. We see Jackie again later, slightly more mature but just as uninhibited and vital. She’s glamorously dressed in the height of 70s fashion, but she moves like a wild creature, not fully at home in the costume of celebrity. She doesn't even touch a bicycle leant against the curb, but it falls over on its own as she passes – as if even inanimate objects were affected by her presence!

Christopher Nupen, as always, adds compelling bonuses: A complete unreleased first movement of the Brahms Sonata in E minor with Barenboim, with an elegant photo-montage, plus the entire unedited interview with Jackie from 1989, (one almost wants to avert one’s eyes, at times, from the transparency of her struggle). It is powerfully moving, because her illness is evident, but even so, her eyes shine — she's determined to communicate. Nupen left it completely unedited on purpose because he wanted to show how direct and spontaneous Jackie was. Every moment of this footage is precious, because we're seeing the real, untouched Jackie for the last time.

People have asked what all this has to do with her music, why we need to know anything about her that we can't get from recordings. For Jackie, music was about life: playing the cello was the way she expressed what life meant to her. And through the eyes of those she loved and love her still, we see how this life touched and affected so deeply. This is why she was so passionate about being filmed, about showing music as a way of living and of being. She considered it so important that she was willing — even proud — to be filmed, even after playing the cello was in the past for her, music was still her native language.

This DVD is essential for all wanting to rekindle the joy of the familiar, while encountering a new and intimate portrait of this great and beloved artist.

Miguel Muelle

Note: Miguel Muelle is a respected specialist in the music of Jacqueline du Pre. For more information

Jonathan Woolf has also looked at this DVD

There seems to be no end in sight to the du Pré legacy. This DVD conjoins two Christopher Nupen films and valuably includes a touching and sad interview between the documentary maker and the cellist filmed in 1980, never before seen in its entirety.

Is there anything left to be said about her? The late interview apart, there are precious few new things here that you won’t already know. Nupen sounds defensive-aggressive in his introduction, talking of the hyperbolic "myth" and the necessity to present the facts and truth, insofar as it is possible. To that end the interviews with her friends, family and contemporaries are valuable even at this remove.

What one remembers most is the crispness of their comments. Zukerman says that she "played from the stomach" and Barenboim that she was "a musical conversationalist." Hugh Maguire talks of their collaboration in the Brahms Double – how she elevated him so much that he played better than he ever had before or since. Let’s hope some evidence exists of that meeting. Ashkenazy, in a wise phrase, refers to her "intelligent intuition" but everyone talks of her technical mastery. "There was no fingerboard," says Zukerman, which could, I suppose, be said of a number of musicians if you wish to put it that way. Still not many I think will have played with their wedding ring on their left hand – amazingly du Pré does just that in one or two shots of her performing. "Did you love her?" Nupen asks the glove-wearing Fou Ts’ong. ‘Of course’ he replies. There’s a pained silence. Elizabeth Wilson talks of her "naturalness but self doubt." She’s one of the few to suggest something less than cheerful, impervious brilliance.

In the December 1980 interview, only a small portion of which has ever been shown on television before and which includes clapperboard and "off stage" talk, we see du Pré talking about her post-performance life. She was working on her edition of the Elgar concerto, teaching and in her word "rebuilding" her life. It’s infinitely sad to hear her, about how Clifford Curzon had visited the previous evening to read poetry to her, as she could no longer read. Nupen keeps suggesting to her that she has broadened intellectually and du Pré half smiling, half grimacing never quite commits herself. If he seeks that compensation she never quite gives it to him.

"Remembering Jacqueline du Pré" was first shown on television in 1995 and is well known. Those shots of her playing Clementi on the piano and duetting with Pleeth in Couperin and Offenbach are wonderfully vibrant. The colour film therefore of the Beethoven A major Op.69 sonata is so startling because so much has been in black and white.

We also hear her and Barenboim play the Brahms sonata in E minor, first movement only and unreleased, whilst a valuable picture montage appears on screen

Given Nupen’s expertise and reputation in this field he will be annoyed to know that there is de-synchronicity between sound and vision at various points – noticeable particularly when Toby Perlman, Elizabeth Wilson and Fischer-Dieskau are talking.

Jonathan Woolf

 

See also Jacqueline du Pré – twenty years on Anne Ozorio talks to Christopher Nupen



 


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