Brahms, Chopin, Franck

Our rating 
2.0 out of 5 star rating 2.0

COMPOSERS: Brahms,Chopin,Franck
LABELS: EMI Double Forte
WORKS: Cello Sonata in E minor, Op. 38; Cello Sonata in F, Op. 99
PERFORMER: Jacqueline du Pré (cello), Daniel Barenboim (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CZS 5 74203 2 ADD Reissue (1968, 1972)
Despite the superficial glamour of her playing, du Pré was hardly the master of understatement, and what’s lacking here is that enkindling autumnal gravitas which underpins Brahms interpretations of true eminence. My prime recommendation remains the Channel disc from Wispelwey and Komen, though anyone also requiring Julius Klengel’s cello version of Brahms’s Violin Sonata, Op. 78, should find Maria Kliegel’s Naxos issue serviceable.

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After her theatrics in Brahms, du Pré’s deeply felt account of Chopin’s valedictory Cello Sonata denotes the high peak in this uneven collection. Here, one gets occasional glimpses of du Pré’s greatness, particularly in the dark-hued tonal rapture she brings to the slow movement. In Franck’s Sonata, du Pré’s pouting, over-indulgent and sometimes hysterical approach does poor justice to Delsart’s admirable transcription, though Barenboim’s handling of the colossal piano part is impressive. Decent transfers, but uneven and often ill-conceived playing from du Pré is usually more puzzling than enlightening. Michael Jameson