A film by Christopher Nupen: A film by Christopher Nupen

COMPOSERS: A film by Christopher Nupen
LABELS: Allegro Films
ALBUM TITLE: Jacqueline du Pré: A Celebration of her Unique and Enduring Gift
WORKS: A film by Christopher Nupen
PERFORMER: Daniel Barenboim, Pinchas Zukerman, Itzhak Perlman, Zubin Mehta, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Evelyn Barbirolli, Vladimir Ashkenazy, John Barbirolli, Elizabeth Wilson etc
CATALOGUE NO: A 07CN D (NTSC system; Stereo; 16:9 anamorphic)
Television is always in a hurry…’ explains Christopher Nupen, a zealous convert to the new DVD format. It certainly has its uses as a repository for precious footage consigned to the cutting room floor. Occasionally there are revelations: here we get to hear Nupen’s own recording of Jacqueline du Pré and Daniel Barenboim’s marvellously conversational Brahms’s E minor Sonata, first movement. At other times, though, one may wish that certain material had remained edited out: for instance, in a 1980 interview where Nupen’s sometimes blunt questions elicit unrevealing ‘best-behaviour’ responses from du Pré. ‘Do you miss playing?’ he asks blithely. By some miracle, her wicked humour helps to bring the excruciating ordeal to a halt.

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Nevertheless, the two main films are classics, and it’s useful to have them on one DVD. Who was Jacqueline du Pré?, a tribute by close colleagues, has not been issued before, and is a searching study. Violinist Hugh Maguire describes vividly how she ‘elevated’ musicians around her. The re-issued Remembering Jacqueline du Pré has film of her performing that has lost none of its bewitching power: great cellists come and go but her rapturous spontaneity remains unique. Rehearsals with the young Perlman, Zukerman, Mehta and Barenboim are lit with a rare exuberance and animal enjoyment. To watch them is to want desperately to join in. As Barenboim observes, ‘Everyone wanted to be like her, to play like that’. When all’s said and done, Nupen captured an extraordinary artist with truth and understanding: it’s a pity, therefore, that the emphasis on endorsement of his work gets in the way of the narrative of this film. Helen Wallace