For nearly as long as I can remember, I’ve been a music junkie. The radio always seemed to be on the “oldies*” station when I was a young’un in the early 70s, and I got bit by the Beatlemania bug big time when I was a mere seven years old. But I’ll be the first to admit, my musical knowledge is spotty at best, and I have had little to no formal introduction to music appreciation. Which is to say, I feel a little self-conscious about today’s choice, but also willing to go out on a limb to recommend The Sound of Jacqueline du Pré.
Here’s the deal: I feel I’m on pretty firm footing for pop/rock music from the early Rock ‘n Roll era up through about 2000. That’s to say, the oldies I grew up with, and the music that was released from my childhood through my early thirties. After that, I mostly discovered music via movies, TV shows, or just sampling what I thought might be interesting.
My knowledge of other genres, like jazz, country, bluegrass, or classical, is atrocious. My most substantive introduction to classical music is thanks to Looney Tunes cartoons, especially “What’s Opera Doc?” and “Rabbit of Seville.” Many thanks to Chuck Jones, Bugs Bunny, and Carl Stalling for their contributions here.
Clearly this list is not overflowing with classical music, so why this selection? I’m still trying to learn about classical music, and I find a lot of it pleasant, but Jacqueline du Pré’s playing just blows me away. As I’ve mentioned a few times in previous posts, I’m a sucker for cello. This collection features a legend playing some of the most wonderful cello concertos / compositions of all time.
If you do any research at all, you’ll find that du Pré is widely regarded as a prodigy, and that her career was tragically short. You’ll also find that the Elgar cello concerto is considered the highlight of her career. That is included on this set, a four CD collection that captures a huge swath of du Pré’s output.
I won’t try to go through song by song on this one. Instead, let me just say that if you’re inclined to enjoy classical music, it seems almost certain that you’ll enjoy this. It’s a fairly recent discovery for me, but I find little chance that I’ll tire of these compositions or du Pré’s playing. I can only envy those who had the opportunity to see her play during her short career.
For those who have a good grasp on classical music, suggestions on other performances, artists, or specific pieces I should seek out are very welcome.
* “Oldies” in this context means music from the 50s and 60s, which was less than 20 years old when it was considered an “oldie” in the mid-70s. When Queen’s The Game and Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell were yet to be released, we were calling Elvis, Little Richard, Buddy Holly, the Shangri-Las, and even The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and The Who through about 1966 “oldies.” By that context, Nirvana’s Nevermind would be considered an “oldie” today.