Strad Magazine July edition 2011
60th Birthday Concert
ROYAL FESTIVAL HALL, LONDON, 14 APRIL 2011
Julian Lloyd Webber attracted an A-list cast of musical friends to celebrate his 60th birthday with him. As a cellist he has always been equally at home in traditional repertoire and popular music – he was famously featured in the South Bank Show TV signature tune – and here he was at ease with Cleo Laine, whose performance of ‘He was Beautiful’ with Lloyd Webber accompanying wooed the audience. The cello’s role in education was celebrated with the ‘In Harmony’ children’s project playing Frank Biddulph’s Hot Gold, while cellists from the Royal College of Music performed Klengel’s Hymnus and the Aria from the fifth Bachianas brasileiras by Villa-Lobos. Here soprano Danielle de Niese wove her magic, shortly followed by violinist Tasmin Little and organist Jane Watts in a charming Benedictus by Julian’s father William Lloyd Webber, which glistened with post-Elgarian harmonies.
Nor could a celebration of Julian’s career omit his brother Andrew’s influence, hence The Phantom of the Opera cunningly strolled into the musical fare. A world premiere from Eric Whitacre for cello and orchestra was a welcome present, but the Elgar Cello Concerto partnered by the Phiharmonia Orchestra under Christopher Warren-Green had greater impact: Lloyd Webber performed it with awesome technical élan and a real empathy for the musical idiom.
Mail on Sunday April 24th 2011
Julian Lloyd Webber, Anniversary Gala, Royal Festival Hall, London
As a postscript to my tribute to Julian Lloyd Webber a fortnight ago, his 60th birthday gala was a joy because of the inspired blend of material, both familiar and unfamiliar.
Of course, room was found in the first half for Julian’s Elgar Concerto, but then he really let his hair down – and he’s still got a lot of it. There was some Villa-Lobos sexily sung by Danielle de Niese; some amazing Ellington with Cleo Laine throwing off her 83 years with all the charisma of a great trouper; and a beautiful, newly composed piece for cello and strings by the American Eric Whitacre in the best English pastoral tradition.
Room was also found for tributes to Julian’s father William, whose beautiful Benedictus was radiantly played by Tasmin Little, and birthday greetings from brother Andrew, accompanying Julian and his wife Jiaxin in some Phantom Of The Opera arrangements.
During a terrific evening Julian proved his versatility over and over again under the benevolent baton of another great friend, Christopher Warren-Green, and a tireless Philharmonia.