Music Webmaster Len Mullenger


Barrington PHELOUNG (with music by ELGAR [Cello Concerto] and Bach, Haydn and Dvorak) Hilary and Jackie OST and source recordings SONY SK 60394 [49:22]  


Crotchet (UK)

US release

UK release

The story of Jacqueline Dupré is well known in musical circles. Du Pré a brilliantly gifted young pianist was strongly identified with the Elgar Cello Concerto although she recorded much of the cello repertoire. She rose to an early maturity and sustained that attainment until her premature death. Her story has been recounted in a recent biography by Hilary and Piers Du Pré.

This collection of about 15 minutes of original music by Barrington Pheloung and music by Elgar, Bach and Iris Du Pré is doubly attractive. The Pheloung music is strong and memorable. The Elgar Cello Concerto performance is gripping and real in a way that many `perfect' studio events can only weakly aspire to.

Barrington Pheloung's tracks 2, 4 and 6 use a long silky cantilena on highest violins with harp lighting the path and woodwind entries lightening the atmosphere. Sibelius Rakastava, Mahler's Adagietto (Symphony No 5 - Death in Venice being rather an apt echo here) and Barber's Adagio are all clear influences. The music also has some of the atmospheric pastoral requiem atmosphere of Geoffrey Burgon's music (available on Silva Screen) for BBCTV's 1980s adaptation of Testament of Youth. The music inhabits a quiet still world singing with that special blend of sadness and beauty.

Track 5 offers Iris Du Pré's Holiday Song for cello and piano. This is a dream-serenade with a strong whiff of salon charm. A Day on the Beach [7] is strikingly attractive - a marine picture breathing the deep surging currents of the sea. The cello cries heart-achingly above the waves. Pheloung has certainly heard Granville Bantock's Hebridean Symphony and the cry of wave and of Delius/Whitman's Sea Drifting, bereft and `solitary guest from Alabama' call out across the seascape. There is a pulsing passion here that is quite overpowering. This soon subsides and returns to the atmospheric and entrancing world of tracks 2, 4 and 6.

Track 7 is the undoubted highlight of the album. Utterly beguiling playing by Caroline Dale and the orchestra.

You are not getting much of Pheloung's original music but what there is definitely worth hearing. It can be appreciated and enjoyed with no knowledge of the film.

You get the most characterful performance of the Elgar concerto and you get it complete on tracks 8-11. For me this performance, first issued on CBS LP in the late 1970s, has spoilt every other performance I have heard, even the rightly-vaunted Barbirolli studio performance. For all Barbirolli's glowing embers and EMI's refined sound it cannot hold a cool candle to the torch-like intensity of Du Pré, Barenboim and the fabulous Philadelphians. This is a Hall Of Fame performance. When you get tired of clean all-star performances - ultimately transient delights - then turn to this for emotion and (to date) the best approximation of the concert experience. If you are allergic to the odd cough and must have the best sound then you will be disappointed. If you love the Elgar and can live with perfectly respectable 1970s sound then go for this CD.

Strongly recommended.


Rob Barnett


Rob Barnett

Return to Index