Cellist Jacqueline du Pré needs little introduction to most listeners. Whether as a result of being perhaps the most prominent female cellist in the last century, her meteoric rise to fame at a young age, the equally rapid decline of her career at the hands of multiple sclerosis, or simply the incredible passion with which she performed, du Pré possessed a singular capacity to make an impression on her audiences. She was single-handedly responsible for reviving the long-dormant Elgar concerto that was to become one of her trademark pieces.
The most significant composer for the French stage between Lully and Rameau, Campra was born in Aix-en-Provence in 1660. His father, an amateur violinist, provided him with his first music lessons, and while he was a slow learner at first, he did begin to show talent, and joined the choir of St. Sauveur in 1674. At one point he nearly lost his place in the choir when he was caught giving unauthorized performances in secular theaters on the side. In August of 1681 he became the music master at the church of Ste.
“She clearly was born to play the cello,” wrote the New York Times of Jacqueline Du Pré in 1967. Just five years later her career was cut tragically short by illness. Du Pré’s recordings provide a treasurable memento of the “perfect balance of youth and maturity” that her teacher, William Pleeth, found in her music-making: “She approached each new experience with spontaneous pleasure and enthusiasm.”