So I heard it after all!
And yesterday, I finally did. By a real musician on a real cello in a real concert hall.
There was a trio concert at the National Centre for Performing Arts on February 19th, 2008 organised by the Symphony Orchestra of India. John Lenehan (piano), Marat Bisengaliev (violin) and Raphael Wallfisch (cello) presented the following compositions:-
Robert Schumann: Five pieces in Folk Style
Claude Debussy: Cello Sonata
Ludwig van Beethoven: Cello Sonata A major
Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy: Trio d minor op. 49
Schumann was terrific. One of his pieces was called "The Vanity of Vanities", and like its name, was a glorious, vain piece of music only a genius could write.
Debussy's piece was written after the Great War (in which he couldn't be of much service), and is at once both mournful and triumphalist, swaying between loss and victory.
Beethoven's Sonata was the best of all. It was played in a more cheerful mood than the Du Pre version I am used to, but it was absolutely as grand and as lovely as I had expected. The three movements were flawless, especially the playful scherzo.
Mendelssohn (the only composer to become a verb courtesy his over-played Wedding March) was a delight to hear, after the intermission.
But the whole point is this: I have now heard the Cello Sonata in A Major live, and therefore can die in peace.