Global Skywatch

Ted’s essays

Jacqueline du Pré

jacqueline-du-preShortly after the turn of the century, I went searching for an affordable turntable. I had a modest-sized, high-quality collection of vinyl LPs, many of which I longed to hear.

I purchased a BIG old-school stereo system from a retired couple who “upgraded” to a modern surround sound … for less than the price of a turntable! It included four two-and-a-half-foot-tall speakers, two of which were HEAVY Yamahas, a 400-watt amplifier capable of driving all four, twin-cassette recorder/player, 5-CD changer, AM/FM receiver, 5-channel equalizer and the all important Pioneer direct-drive turntable.

Just before our 2013 move to The Bitterroot was the last time I heard the big stereo play.

Tuesday a friend helped me get it going, but pointed out that my light-weight speaker cables were marginal for pushing the sound out of those big boys. So I delayed the inauguration until I plumbed it in with proper 12-gauge multi-strand speaker wires.

Then, as has now become a tradition, I spent the better part of an hour, home alone, truly savoring what I suspect is the finest musical recording ever pressed into vinyl … at concert volume.

Dvorák Cello Concerto in B Minor, with Jacqueline du Pré passionately on the cello, and Daniel Barenboim conducting the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, recorded by Angel Records in 1970.

There are other recordings of that concerto, but she famously brought more emotion out of a cello than anyone in modern times, and her husband Daniel Barenboim was able to draw a complimentary passion out of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to create a magical performance. While EVERYBODY KNOWS that the trombone is the instrument of the gods, Jacqueline’s cello even gets trombone players to sit and listen.

I wrote of a similar moment when I first assembled this stereo system in my home. The ensuing years has not changed much.

magic moment
By Ted, on October 17th, 2008