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Check Ignition

September 24, 2010

  My last pick before tomorrow night’s symphony season blastoff might be the piece I’m most looking foward to this year – Edward Elgar’s Cello Concerto in E Minor.  It’s one of the mainstay concertos for solo cello and orchestra, recorded over the decades by the best of the best in cello world, but really given a voice through a dazzling 1965 EMI recording by Jaqueline du Pré with Sir John Barbirolli and the London Symphony Orchestra.

My excitement for hearing this particular piece is directly linked to my recently renewed love affair with Jackie after rediscovering the recording among my CDs.  It’s amazing how her raw energy and bristling electricity manage to grab you through the speakers, pin you to your seat, and leave you with a melancholy ache in the hollow right behind your sternum.  And that’s just the first 4 bars!  Everything that follows is a life-changing experience. 

Anyway, she, and particularly the Elgar, have defined this summer for me, dominating my iPod week after week.  That might be why I’m looking forward to this not-too-distant performance so much – besides being a fantastic concerto, it’ll be the dessert to my memories of blackberry sunshine and blue sky freedom, proving again that the sweetest music to to our ears usually has a home in our hearts.  This piece has moved in and spread itself out. 

I realize that I can’t compare every performance to Jackie’s, that other cellists have things to say through the Elgar too, and that in the end the piece itself speaks volumes, but I can’t resist leaving you with her playing the 4th movement (under the baton of her husband, Daniel Barenboim) to serenade us out.

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