Jacqueline du Pre's 1965 recording of Elgar's Cello Concerto is often regarded as the definitive version of the work, and in its most recent re-mastering the recorded sound is still very good. I've listened to several recordings of the concerto over the years, and what some people consider empassioned about du Pre's playing I find exaggerated, and have always preferred Julian Lloyd Webber's performance. Jean-Guihen Queyras is more restrained than du Pre, which is to my taste, but there is no lack of intensity and he holds the long lyrical lines beautifully. The recording is well balanced, and this is now my preferred recording of the Elgar.
Until now I'd never really appreciated Tchaikovsky's Rococco Variations despite having heard it live (where the soloist 's sound was swallowed by the orchestra), and have felt decidely underwhelmed by Rostropovich's recording. This performance by soloist and orchestra combines both elegance and virtuosity. Queyras is recorded sufficiently forward to give the solo cello prominence without making the balance sound unnatural. Dvorak's Rondo is an unexceptional filler, but Silent Woods is excellent with a performance to the same standard as the major works on the disc.
BBC Music Magazine gave this CD a 3 out of 5 star review, although I've seen five star reviews in several newspapers. I strongly recommend this CD, unless you think the Elgar Concerto must always sound like Jacqueline du Pre.
I've lived for years with recordings of the Elgar by Du Pre and Tortelier (even saw him play it live), and tend to prefer the Tortelier, as I find Du Pre (as another reviewer comments) somewhat over-done or even exaggerated, to the point that I can only play it about once a year.
Which brings us to the current recording, which is akin to Tortelier's more restrained approach. The music itself has plenty of feeling and so, for my tastes, it doesn't require more emotive, "expressive" playing. This more straightforward approach appeals to me more.
The orchestral support and the recording are excellent.
The Rococco Variations are well done and make an interesting contrast to the Elgar.
The Dvorak short pieces are a charming addition, making this an overall excellent purchase!