Jacqueline du Pré-A Celebration (2007) (NTSC)

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Released 12-Oct-2007

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Classical None
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 2007
Running Time 163:05 (Case: 195)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Christopher Nupen
Studio
Distributor
Allegro Films
Select Audio-Visual Distrib
Starring Jacqueline du Pré
Christopher Nupen
Case Amaray-Opaque
RPI ? Music Beethoven
Brahms


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio Varies
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio Varies Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
German
Spanish
Finnish
French
Italian
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Jacqueline du Pré was one of the finest cellists of the 20th century. She was also one of the most beloved British musicians. However, that is not the reason why Jacqueline du Pré: A Celebration graces the DVD shelves.

    Put simply, this DVD is the result of a general fascination surrounding du Pré's private life and public hell. The private life, to the extent it is to be believed, appears from the best selling biography of du Pré and the subsequent movie Hillary and Jackie. The public hell comes from the fact that relatively early in her career she was struck down by multiple sclerosis and rendered unable to embrace her beloved cello. That sad fact alone, like the death of James Dean or the suicide of Kurt Cobain, has kept her very much in the public consciousness despite the fact that she died over 20 years ago.

    None of the above is to diminish the quality of her playing. Even stripped of its doom-laden association with her health crisis, her performance in 1965 of Elgar's cello concerto, conducted by Sir John Barbarolli, remains a highlight of recorded classical performance. In a world where every piece of music has been recorded and re-recorded only rarely has anyone come close to capturing lightning in a bottle as the producers of that legendary disc. It has never been out of print. Without wishing to fall victim to the same clichés that surround her memory the Elgar concerto captures every dark emotion and unbridled joy of her life. She had a connection with the highs and lows of the music that is unmistakable and a refusal to allow formal mechanism into her playing.

    This DVD is a compendium of various films and materials. They are as follows:

  1. Who was Jacqueline du Pré (56.17)

  2. Brahms' Interlude (12.00)

  3. The Trout remembered by Jacqueline du Pré (1.16)

  4. Remembering Jacqueline du Pré (56.00)

  5. Allegro Molto Compilation (38.35)

    It is a sequel of some sorts to the 2005 release Jacqueline du Pré: A Portrait. That DVD contained two of her film performances, of the Elgar concerto with husband Daniel Baremboim conducting and the Piano Trio number 5 in D major (The Ghost) by Beethoven. If fact, those works as well as the complete performance of Schubert's Trout Quintet remain her only complete filmed performances.

    The only really new film in this collection is Who Was Jacqueline du Pré. In the liner notes and the lengthy introduction by director Christopher Nupen he states that this film contains all new material. For those looking for an undiscovered performance of the Bach 'cello suites must be prepared to be disappointed. The new material is mainly short scenes in slow motion of her walking along the street. There are some nice snatches from the Beethoven A Major Sonata Opus 69 but really this is just a chance for her friends and colleagues to tell the world about her unique gift and winning personality. Some of the famous quests, which include Daniel Baremboim, Zubin Mehta, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Vladimir Ashkenazy, lay on the compliments a bit thick however I can well understand when Itzhak Perlman describes how his memories of their wonderful performance of the Trout Quintet have forever ruined the piece for him.

    The other substantial film, Remembering Jacqueline du Pré, is a recycled work from an earlier Christopher Nupen release. That disc is now out of print and it is certainly worth watching. The film includes numerous excerpts of du Pré talking about the 'cello and playing some lovely works as well as containing some heartfelt comments from her tutor William Pleeth. It ends with an excerpt from the Elgar concerto which is enough to make a newcomer rush out to purchase the earlier DVD.

    The Allegro Molto compilation is simply a gathering of excerpts from 26 Christopher Nupen films. It is worth watching for some of the famous performers however the excerpts are very brief.

    There are three other shorter elements to the DVD. One is the first movement from Brahms' 'Cello Sonata in E Minor Op.38. This is an audio recording of the movement accompanied by images of du Pré and husband Daniel Baremboim. It is interesting and worth watching although the images do not really add much to the work. The two Brahms sonatas are available on CD.

    Finally, there is an interview with du Pré which was conducted by Christopher Nupen in 1980. Viewers will no doubt vary greatly in their appreciation of the interview. Her illness was at its most devastating by this time and she is a shell of her former self. It recalls the last interview given by writer Dennis Potter to Melvyn Bragg prior to his death from cancer. I found it difficult to watch, and Nupen's questions are infuriating but others may see it as a celebration of her spirit coming through despite her debilitating condition.

    The only other point which bears mentioning is the character of Christopher Nupen himself. He not only provides narration at various points during the films but also presents an introduction to each film. Nupen is an earnest but ponderous speaker and his introductions together approximate 16 minutes. Of particular note is where he provides an introduction of 1:21 to a segment which itself runs for only 1:16! The best appreciation of Jacqueline du Pré remains on CD. However, for enthusiasts of her life and legacy leaving aside her wonderful 'cello playing itself this DVD provides an excellent accompaniment to the previous release, a source of nostalgia and some enjoyable musical excerpts.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The films comprising Jacqueline du Pré: A Celebration are a mixture of standard widescreen and 4:3. The menus and introductions are anamorphically enhanced

    The DVD is coded  region free and is presented in NTSC. The case describes the films as having been restored and remastered for DVD and the final result is pretty good, all things considered. The historical footage is not perfect but is very watchable considering the age and low budget of the original source.

    The modern footage is comprised of interviews. These are a little soft but still quite acceptable.

    The film segments feature an acceptable level of grain but are surprisingly clean and easy on the eye. Artefacts are kept to a minimum.

    Being a region free release intended for worldwide distribution, the DVD carries multiple subtitle streams. The English subtitles are accurate to the spoken word. The only trick is that during the main feature Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau speaks in his native German and the subtitles have to be selected to understand what he is saying. They must then be de-selected if you don't want to have them on for the remainder of the film.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The key features in this collection are presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 running at 224Kbs.

    This is entirely adequate for the interview segments. Further, there are no problems with the 'cello sound which is about as good as one could expect recordings that are almost 40 years old to sound. The case describes the films as having been remastered for DVD which in the case of the sound means some noise reduction was applied.

    There is no hiss to be found and the instruments are front and centre. As might be expected the weaker sound comes in the orchestral excerpts.

    The dialogue can all be heard clearly and there are no audio sync problems.

    The Allegro Molto section has by far the worst sound but this is really a filler.

    On the whole the DVD is more of a musical portrait than a music DVD.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    It is hard to tell where the five features end and the extras begin. Technically, I suppose, all but the first film are extras but the case makes no such distinction. I have given a mark for "extras" below in any event.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This DVD is available internationally in the identical format.

Summary

    Jacqueline du Pré: A Celebration is just that - a celebration of an exceptional artist who reached but never sustained her potential. The films in the collection are interesting to varying degrees. Casual fans of 'cello music may want to stick to the recordings but du Pre groupies will find the set indispensable.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer BDP-LX70 Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output
DisplayPioneer PDP-5000EX. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR605
SpeakersJBL 5.1 Surround and Subwoofer

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Yet another du Pré film - penguin (there is no bio) REPLY POSTED