And the Bridge is Love

Music Web June 2015

And the Bridge is Love – English Music for Strings

This CD represents a first and a last. It is Julian Lloyd Webber’s first disc as a conductor but, sadly, it is also his last as a solo cellist because he has now had to end his distinguished career as a cellist due to health issues.

His envoi as a cellist is the piece by Howard Goodall which gives the album its title. Goodall wrote this piece for cello and string orchestra with harp in 2008. It was written in memory of Hannah Ryan, the cellist daughter of close family friends of Goodall, who died at a tragically young age in 2007. The title is taken from a book, The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder. The book is, in Goodall’s words, “a parable of the struggle to find meaning in chance and in inexplicable tragedy.” The piece exploits the cello’s capacity for songful melancholy. The soloist’s material is almost exclusively lyrical with the accompaniment mainly delicate and deliberately uncomplicated. Much of the piece is in a gentle vein and it forms a touching tribute. It seems to me to offer further evidence of Howard Goodall’s ability to communicate effectively with an audience, whether through his own music or when speaking about music more generally.

Elgar’s music features prominently in the programme. Perhaps that’s not surprising when one considers that throughout his career as a cellist Julian Lloyd Webber displayed empathy for Elgar’s music in his performances of the Cello Concerto. He leads a spirited performance of the Introduction and Allegro. He may not quite match the achievement of Sir John Barbirolli – another cellist turned conductor – in this piece (review) but his account of it is very enjoyable nonetheless. He also offers a cultivated reading of the Serenade, a piece which the ECO must have played countless times but which still sounds fresh here. Incidentally, as proof that one can always learn something, I was very interested to read in the useful notes by Peter Avis that the first professional performance of the Serenade, in 1896, was given, not in Britain, as I would have expected, but in Antwerp. I also enjoyed very much Lloyd Webber’s performance of Chanson de matin. This is light – or at least lighter – music but it’s a very superior example of the genre. There’s a family link here because Peter Avis points out that Lloyd Webber’s mother was a sometime pupil of W. H. ‘Billy’ Reed.

Family connections are more explicit through the inclusion of The Moon by Julian Lloyd Webber’s father. Apparently this was originally a part-song, written by William Lloyd Webber in 1950. He made the present arrangement for string orchestra shortly afterwards but it remained unperformed until his centenary year, 2014. I’ve heard a few works by William Lloyd Webber on disc in recent years and have enjoyed what I’ve heard. This piece can be added to that list of pleasing discoveries. It’s a charming miniature and it’s given here in a sensitive performance. I’m glad that Julian Lloyd Webber has included this little tribute to his father.

The Delius pieces are nicely done and Walton’s two fine miniatures from his excellent music for the film of Henry V are played with no little poetry. It’s hard to avoid the feeling that the short pieces by Vaughan Williams and Ireland are included to make up the numbers – the former in particular – but the Ireland piece is a most effective arrangement of music originally composed for brass band.

This is a very enjoyable anthology. I don’t know how much conducting Julian Lloyd Webber had done prior to this assignment but he obtains good and responsive playing from the ECO. It was a shrewd move to make a recording debut with music for strings, an idiom to which he clearly brings a practitioner’s understanding. All music-lovers will have been saddened by his enforced retirement as a cellist. However, it’s clear both from this recorded debut as a conductor and his recent appointment as Principal of Birmingham Conservatoire that we certainly have not seen the last of Julian Lloyd Webber. That can only be a good thing.

John Quinn

McAlister Matheson Music June 2015

And the Bridge is Love

This is a disc of many firsts and one unfortunate last – Julian Lloyd Webber’s final recording as a cellist before his retirement from playing due to a neck injury that affected his bowing arm. However, this disc also marks his first recording as a conductor.

He and the English Chamber Orchestra have chosen to explore some of the glorious highways and byways of English string music, the former being represented by deft, full-blooded accounts of Elgar’s Introduction and Allegro for Strings and Serenade for Strings. However, it is the lesser-known pieces that make this disc so attractive. Elgar’s Chanson de nuit and Chanson de matin are presented as world premiere recordings in orchestrations for strings by Elgar’s close friend W H Reed, the LSO’s distinguished leader from 1912 until 1935. So too is the exquisite Sospiri (Sighs), a short work for strings, harp and harmonium that Elgar dedicated to Reed.

Another first is William Lloyd Webber’s touching 1950 arrangement of his song The Moon, unperformed until 2014. The disc takes its title from Howard Goodall’s 2008 work for solo cello and strings, composed in memory of a teenage cellist friend who died tragically in 2007 and rooted firmly in the yearning, melodic English string-writing tradition. Arrangements by Fenby (of Delius’s Two Aquarelles), Vaughan Williams, Walton and Ireland round off a worthwhile project.

Anne McAlister June 2015

And the Bridge is Love – English Music for Strings

This recording, released in 2015, may be the final release to feature Julian Lloyd Webber as a cellist; neck injuries have forced him to make a transition to conducting, so the album, on which he appears in both capacities, is something of a milestone. It’s a remarkably personal document, featuring a previously unrecorded work, The Moon, by Julian (and Andrew) Lloyd Webber’s father and the title work by Howard Goodall, dedicated to a cellist who died at the age of 17. The best news, however, is that Lloyd Webber emerges as a solid talent with the baton, getting a big, distinctive sound out of the venerable English Chamber Orchestra in this set of exquisitely sentimental British string music. There are several more unusual pieces and world premieres here, including Elgar’s Sospiri, Op. 70, performed with its original harmonium, and two Elgar “chansons” transcribed from violin-and-piano works. But he also does well with more familiar repertory, lending grace to Elgar’s Tchaikovskian Serenade for strings, Op. 20, and weight to the Introduction and Allegro for strings, Op. 47. For an entire album of conservative British string orchestra music of the 20th and 21st centuries, Lloyd Webber realizes quite a variety of moods and keeps the orchestra under tight control in what must have been largely unfamiliar music, even in England. Recommended for those with the slightest sympathy toward English music.

by James Manheim

Music and Vision May 2015

CD Spotlight – English Music for Strings

‘Utmost Pleasure’

English music for strings – praised by HOWARD SMITH

‘… a gorgeous new release from Naxos …’

Here’s a musical gift deserving of a resounding hurrah. The English Chamber Orchestra (ECO), founded in 1960, is unsurpassed in string music.

And now the ECO is back in a gorgeous new release from Naxos — a generous selection of Britain’s fine, much loved, orchestral string music. A treasury of Elgar, Vaughan Williams, Delius, Ireland, Walton and others…

Pizzicato May 2015

Lloyd-Webber als Cellist und als Dirigent

And the Bridge is Love; English Music for Strings; Delius: 2 Aquarelles; Elgar: Introduction & Allegro for strings, Op. 47, Serenade for Strings in E minor, Op. 20, Chanson de Nuit, Op. 15 No. 1; Chanson de Matin, Op. 15 No. 2; Goodall: And the Bridge is Love; Ireland: Minuet (A Downland Suite); W. Lloyd Webber: The Moon; Vaughan Williams: Prelude Charterhouse Suite; Walton: Passacaglia – Death of Falstaff and Touch her soft lips from Henry V; English Chamber Orchestra, Julian Lloyd Webber, Cello & Ltg.; 1 CD Naxos 8.573250; 4/14 (69′) – Rezension von Remy Franck

Julian Lloyd Webber, der im vergangenen Jahr (2014) das Cellospiel aus medizinischen Gründen aufgeben musste, ist auf dieser CD in seinen letzten Celloaufnahmen und zugleich in seinen ersten Einspielungen als Dirigent zu hören.

Zusammen mit dem ‘English Chamber Orchestra’ hat er kurze Stücke britischer Komponisten aufgenommen, Musik von Elgar, Delius, Vaughan Williams, Ireland, Walton, Howard Goodall und von seinem Vater William Lloyd Webber. Nicht weniger als vier Kompositionen werden hier als Ersteinspielungen vorgelegt. Andere Stücke gehören zum Repertoire und waren schon oft auf Schallplatten zu hören. Sie zeigen, wie anspruchsvoll Lloyd Webber mit dieser manchmal als ‘leicht’ bezeichneten Musik umgeht, wie gut es ihm gelingt, Stimmungen aus den Farben heraus zu entwickeln und dabei nie sentimental zu werden. Das ‘English Chamber Orchestra’ folgt dem Dirigenten mit größter Aufmerksamkeit und trägt mit viel Raffinement zum Charme dieser Produktion bei.

This is Julian Lloyd Webber’s premiere recording as conductor and at the same time his last production as cellist. His conducting is as ambitious as his cello playing. He carefully develops atmospheres without getting sentimental. The English Chamber Orchestra plays vividly and with much refinement.

The Classical Reviewer 19th May 2015

And the Bridge is Love

With a vivid recording, Julian Lloyd Webber and the English Chamber Orchestra bring one of the finest discs of English Music for Strings currently available on a new release from Naxos It has recently been announced that cellist Julian Lloyd Webber has been appointed the new Principal of the Birmingham Conservatoire. I can think of no better musician to help ensure the future of musical education in Britain, thus making his appointment the ideal choice.

Since a neck injury forced his decision to retire as a cellist it is to be hoped that this new post will give Lloyd Webber opportunities to forge a new career. However, it is not only as the Principal of the Birmingham Conservatoire that this fine musician is forging new paths.

A new release from Naxos features Julian Lloyd Webber as conductor of the English Chamber Orchestra in a collection of English Music for Strings entitled And the Bridge is Love. This new recording includes no less than four world premiere recordings.

The strings of the English Chamber Orchestra really bite into the opening bars of Edward Elgar’s (1857-1934) Introduction and Allegro, Op. 47 (1905) before the music slows. Julian Lloyd Webber brings some particularly fine moments of hushed repose, so sensitive and thoughtful. The ECO provide a very fine string tone in some beautiful passages, offset by the most intense emotional moments. There is a beautiful care of dynamics, particularly when leading into faster passages. This is tip top string playing with terrific ensemble. Lloyd Webber pushes the music ahead with great drive before the glorious broad sweeping passages which lead towards the coda.

This is a particularly fine performance that must rank among the very best on record.

This conductor brings his fine musicianship to Elgar’s Sospiri, Op. 70 (1914) in a performance that draws the most exquisite playing from the ECO, subtly drawing moments of intensity and a richness of string texture that is really quite lovely.

Julian Lloyd Webber gives the world premiere recording of his father, William Lloyd Webber’s (1914-1982) The Moon (1950). This lovely little piece has a quintessential Englishness that fits perfectly into this programme; a lovely, subtle rise and fall with some lovely string playing.

Howard Goodall’s (b.1958) And the Bridge Is Love (2008) is another world premiere recording that gives this disc its title. This performance features Lloyd Webber as conductor and cello soloist. The title is a quotation from a Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Thornton Wilder (1897-1975) and was composed in memory of a young cellist, the daughter of a close friend of the composer.

The piece opens quietly on lower strings together with harp before Lloyd Webber brings a cello melody that arises, slowly becoming firmer and supported by an increasingly richer orchestral string sound. The music moves through some lovely passages, at times very much in the English tradition yet with a contemporary feel. Lloyd Webber finds much beauty as well as some terrific little phrases for cello that add interest to the music. There is a poignant coda, especially so if this is the last recording we are likely to have from this great cellist.

Ralph Vaughan Williams’ (1872-1958) The Charterhouse Suite began life as a Suite of Six Short Pieces for Piano published in 1921before being orchestrated by James Brown in collaboration with Vaughan Williams and renamed The Charterhouse Suite, after his old school and published in 1923. Here we are given just the short Prelude. It has a buoyant, jolly theme played here with crisp precision.

A lovely rhythmic buoyancy opens the Allegro Piacevole of Elgar’s Serenade for Strings, Op.20 (1892) bringing a subtle orchestral rubato and beautifully judged tempi. There is a beautifully shaped Larghetto with Lloyd Webber again finding lovely sonorities and beautiful, natural flow. The Allegretto – Come prima brings a lovely lilt, a gentle spring to the music as well as some fine string details.

It was Frederick Delius’ (1862-1934) amanuensis, Eric Fenby, that arranged the composer’s Two Songs to be sung of a summer night on the water (1917) for wordless unaccompanied chorus as Two Aquarelles (1917/1932). Here No.1: Lento, ma non troppo is beautifully done, just the right amount of ebb and flow with lovely string sonorities. No.2: Gaily, but not quick has a nice rhythmic lift, such a fleeting nature before it rises only to fall to a lovely coda. These two lovely miniatures are beautifully played.

Violinist, leader of the London Symphony Orchestra and friend of Elgar, W. H. (Billy) Reed arranged the composer’s Chanson De Nuit and Chanson De Matin for string orchestra in 1939. Lloyd Webber and the English Chamber Orchestra bring a calm, gentle stateliness as Chanson De Nuit, Op. 15, No. 1 (1897/1939) unfolds, before subtly allowing the music to rise, nicely shaped, beautifully phrased and wonderfully controlled. Chanson De Matin, Op. 15, No. 2 (1899/1939) is, again, beautifully shaped and phrased with fine flexible tempi.

William Walton’s (1902-1983) Two Pieces for Strings from Henry V (1944) are taken from his music for Laurence Olivier’s film of Shakespeare’s Henry V. Passacaglia: Death of Falstaff achieves a fine, dark opening, hushed and mysterious and with a depth that is often missed. The music opens out exquisitely before the hushed coda. To follow there is a lovely Touch her soft lips and part, gentle, exquisite and finely controlled.

John Ireland (1879-1962) wrote his A Downland Suite for the National Brass Band Championships in 1932. In four sections, Ireland later arranged the second and third sections for string orchestra, Geoffrey Bush arranging the first and fourth sections. Here Julian Lloyd Webber and the English Chamber Orchestra play No.3. Minuet: Allegretto Grazioso (1942) in a lovely performance that is beautifully paced and shaped, bringing some very fine playing from the orchestra.

With a vivid recording from Watford Colosseum, Watford, England this is one of the finest discs of such repertoire available. There are informative notes from Peter Avis and Howard Goodall.

Bruce Reader

BBC Radio 3 ‘CD Review’ May 2 2015

And the Bridge is Love

Elgar: Introduction and Allegro; Serenade for Strings; Sospiri; Chanson de Matin; Chanson de Nuit

William Lloyd Webber: The Moon

Howard Goodall: And the Bridge is Love

Vaughan Williams: Charterhouse Suite – Prelude

Delius: Two Aquarelles

Walton: Henry V— Passacaglia, ‘Touch her soft lips and part’

Ireland: A Downland Suite-Minuet

Julian Lloyd Webber (‘cello), English Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Julian Lloyd Webber

Recorded at Watford Colosseum, 22nd to 24th April, 2014 Duration: 70:07 Naxos: 8.573250

‘What I like most is that Lloyd Webber knows how string players breath, understands how the bow works.’

‘There is a real sense of harmony with the players and as a result Julian gets really characterful soloistic playing out of the English Chamber Orchestra.’

‘It’s a joy to listen to, fabulous stuff and Julian brings a lushness to the strings.’

‘Elgar’s Sospiri – .the richness and beauty of the playing, sublimely encapsulated in the one piece.’

Elgar Journal April 2015

And the Bridge is Love

Elgar: Introduction and Allegro; Serenade for Strings; Sospiri; Chanson de Matin; Chanson de Nuit

William Lloyd Webber: The Moon

Howard Goodall: And the Bridge is Love

Vaughan Williams: Charterhouse Suite – Prelude

Delius: Two Aquarelles

Walton: Henry V— Passacaglia, ‘Touch her soft lips and part’

Ireland: A Downland Suite-Minuet

Julian Lloyd Webber (‘cello), English Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Julian Lloyd Webber

Recorded at Watford Colosseum, 22nd to 24th April, 2014 Duration: 70:07 Naxos: 8.573250

A splendid new CD with our Vice-President, Julian Lloyd Webber, conducting The English Chamber Orchestra in a wide-ranging programme of English Music for Strings. Possibly the highlight is the world premiere recording of Howard Goodall’s And the Bridge is Love. A most moving performance in which there is much love and warmth. There is sadness too, in that this work is dedicated to a young cellist who tragically died young and it’s the final recording which Julian will ever make. I remember hearing him play, for the first time, at a Music Society concert in Clitheroe in Lancashire, together with my young daughter – some 35 years ago! A further world premiere recording is by Julian’s father, William: The Moon. He had set to music the words of The Moon by the Welsh Poet, William Henry Davies, an arrangement for strings following shortly afterwards. This version, however, remained unperformed until 2014, his centenary year. A lovely, lyrical piece.

There are connections between several of the other works on the disc. Two never previously recorded arrangements of the two Chansons – Chanson de nuit and Chanson de matin by Elgar’s friend and biographer W H Reed. Billy Reed was leader of the LSO from 1912 to 1935 and Julian’s mother, Jean, studied piano and violin with him. And, as we all know, Elgar visited Delius at Grez-sur-Loing in 1933, some nine months before he died. Besides the various Elgar pieces and the Fenby-arranged Two Aquarelles – No 1 (Lento, ma non troppo) and No 2 (Gaily, but not quick) Delius, there are interspersed such gems as the Minuet from Ireland’s Downland Suite, Walton’s Two pieces for strings from Henry V – Passacaglia Death of Falstaff and Touch her soft lips and part plus Vaughan William Charterhouse Suite – No 1 Prelude.

In all, an exquisitely performed disc, with soaring strings on some of the most well-known and loved joyful English melodies, together with two splendid previously unrecorded works. A total delight!

John Rushton

Elgar Journal April 2015

And the Bridge is Love

Elgar: Introduction and Allegro; Serenade for Strings; Sospiri; Chanson de Matin; Chanson de Nuit

William Lloyd Webber: The Moon

Howard Goodall: And the Bridge is Love

Vaughan Williams: Charterhouse Suite – Prelude

Delius: Two Aquarelles

Walton: Henry V— Passacaglia, ‘Touch her soft lips and part’

Ireland: A Downland Suite-Minuet

Julian Lloyd Webber (‘cello), English Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Julian Lloyd Webber

Here we have absolute delight tinged with a touch of sadness. Delight that the Society’s President has given us such a wonderful disc as conductor: sadness that it includes his final recording as a ‘cellist.

Howard Goodall’s And the Bridge is Love was composed in memory of a young ‘cellist, Hannah Ryan, who died in 2007, and it was premièred by Julian Lloyd Webber in 2008. It is a most moving piece, around 12 minutes long, and receives a most moving performance on this disc.

A ‘cellist, John Barbirolli, first recorded the Introduction and Allegro in 1927 and made the piece his own: now another takes on his mantle and proves a worthy successor. Lloyd Webber’s years of experience as a string player, combined with his natural sense of how the music should flow — and especially where it should breathe – give these performances by the English Chamber Orchestra a vibrant quality. Just listen to the Introduction and Allegro’s final pizzicato chord – a full, ringing. sound, perfectly balanced — and you will see just what one string player’s supreme ability can bring to a string group. Sospiri tugs at the heart-strings, at it should, and the Serenade sounds newly-minted. The two Chansons are given in arrangements for string orchestra by Billy Reed: well worth hearing, particularly as you’ll probably have recordings of Elgar’s orchestrations already.

To my mind, the other gem on this disc is the short piece by Lloyd Webber senior, arranged by him from a part-song of 1950, but not performed until last year. I happened to be playing the disc while others were in the house, and they were all drawn to the music room by The Moon.

The disc was produced by Andrew Keener, engineered by Mike Hatch and recorded in the Watford Colosseum – a triple guarantee of quality. It is, however, a shame that no-one thought to name the players in the solo quartet. The second violinist, in particular, is outstanding, both individually and as a member of the quartet. I remember my ten-year-old son telling me that playing second was much harder than first, as you didn’t just have tunes to play. There’s a lot in what he said.

Richard Wiley

Gramophone April 2015

Editor’s Choice

Delius Two Aquarelles (arr. Fenby) Elgar Chanson de nuit, Op 15 No 1. Chanson de matin, Op 15 No 2 (both arr. WH Reed). Introduction and Allegro, Op 47. Serenade, Op 20. Sospiri, Op 70 Goodall ‘And the Bridge is Love’ Ireland A Downland Suite – No 3, Minuet W Lloyd Webber ‘The Moon’ Vaughan Williams The Charterhouse Suite – No 1, Prelude Walton Henry V – Passacaglia: Death of Falstaff; Touch her soft lips and part English Chamber Orchestra / Julian Lloyd Webber vc Naxos © 8573250 (70’. DDD)

A neck injury may have forced Julian Lloyd Webber to retire from the concert platform as a soloist but this conspicuously accomplished programme demonstrates he also possesses a considerable talent for wielding the conductor’s baton. Howard Goodall’s poignantly elegiac And the Bridge is Love for solo cello, strings and harp (composed for the 2008 Chipping Campden Festival) gets top billing on the cover; needless to report, Lloyd Webber plays with total commitment in what was his final recording as a soloist – and the ECO is with him every step of the way. There are three more world premiere recordings: Elgar’s Chanson de nuit and Chanson de matin are heard in WH (‘Billy’) Reed’s wonderfully idiomatic transcriptions(and most disarmingly Lloyd Webber shapes them, too); and we also get a sweetly lyrical miniature, The Moon, by William Lloyd Webber (19 14-82).

However, what really make this anthology worth investigating are the strikingly articulate, scrupulously prepared and consistently involving readings of the remaining British masterworks for string orchestra, for which Lloyd Webber displays a striking affinity. In his imaginative hands Elgar’s towering Introduction and Allegro has a big-hearted candour, contrapuntal clarity and bracing vigour that make you sit up and listen. Nor could anyone miss the very real sense of heartache and shuddering passion that inform Sospiri (where the harmonium contribution is most tastefully integrated within the luminously textured whole). The Serenade, too, comes off very well, Lloyd Webber procuring playing of unruffled poise, generous depth of feeling and alluring tonal lustre from the ECO. Elsewhere, Delius’s Two Aquarelles are essayed with exceptional perception (I was put in mind of Norman Del Mar’s incomparably poetic way with this music), while both Walton’s Henry V diptych and the delectable Minuet from Ireland’s A Downland Suite receive raptly communicative and ideally pliable treatment.

Admirably produced by Andrew Keener, and with sound emanating from Watford Town Hall that is rich and glowingly realistic to match (take a bow, Mike Hatch), this enormously enjoyable Naxos anthology deserves every success, and I for one look forward to future releases under Julian Lloyd Webber’s personable lead.

Andrew Achenbach

BBC Music Magazine April 2015

AND THE BRIDGE IS LOVE Elgar: Introduction and Allegro; Serenade for Strings; Sospiri; Chanson de nuit; Chanson de matin; plus works by Vaughan Williams, William Lloyd Webber, Delius, Goodall, Walton and Ireland

English Chamber Orchestral

Julian Lloyd Webber (cello)

Noxos 8.573250 70:07 mins

Julian Lloyd Webber made this recording some months before announcing his unwished-for retirement from cello playing, due to a long-standing injury. So might conducting be an area that could fruitfully open up for him instead? On the evidence of this release, one would very much hope so. The only works he features in here as a soloist are Howard Goodall’s And the Bridge is Love (composed in memory of a family friend who had tragically died young), and The Moon by his father, William Lloyd Webber. To judge from Lloyd Webber Jnr’s trademark tawny-brown, gloss-free finely sustained sound, there’s no audible sign of any falling-off of quality in this department.

And as a conductor, he evidently has the ability to make a difference to collective performance-level (the English Chamber Orchestra plays characterfully and vividly at every point) while not getting in the music’s way — a combination of qualities nicely suited to this line-up of string works. Those by Elgar come across especially well (apart from Sospiri, here sounding a notch over-ripe). The Introduction and Allegro crackles along with crisp energy, with the four (uncredited) solo players delivering some lovely moments; and Lloyd Webber’s sureness of touch in the Serenade for Strings exactly captures the music’s unpretentious warmth.

Malcolm Hayes



(THE REST) ****


Mail on Sunday 15th March 2015


Julian Lloyd Webber And The Bndge Is Love. Naxos, out now *****

On this winning album, Julian Lloyd Webber emerges as a conductor of some distinction, drawing eloquent performances from the English Chamber Orchestra of an enticing blend of familiar and unfamiliar English music for strings, including four world premieres.

Touchingly, there is also Julian’s final appearance as a cellist, in a performance of Howard Goodall’s And The Bridge is Love, a moving elegy for the daughter of some close family friends, who died tragically young in 2007 aged only 17.

Julian displays his conducting mettle with an excitingly propulsive account of Elgar’s Introduction And Allegro, a masterpiece that has rarely sounded better on disc.

In more relaxed mood, he directs elegant performances of Elgar’s Serenade; his haunting Sospiri; and the Chansons De Matin and De Soir.

There’s also a touching tribute to Julian’s father, William, in a piece dad LW wrote in 1950 entitLed The Moon, a work of real quality that more than justifies its inclusion here.

And there’s a brief Vaughan Williams rarity: the opening movement of his Charterhouse Suite, originally for piano but arranged for strings in 1923 under the composer’s supervision.

This is as lovely an album as I expect to hear this year, making a powerful case to put English string music up there among our nation’s greatest musical achievements.

David Mellor


Classic FM Album of the Week, 23 February 2015

In this his first recording as a conductor, Julian Lloyd Webber showcases a wide-ranging programme of English music for strings includes the world premiere of Howard Goodall’s moving And the Bridge is Love, in which Lloyd Webber plays cello in a farewell performance, after announcing his retirement from performing.

There’s also the first ever recording of his father William Lloyd Webber’s The Moon, which was only performed for the first time in 2014.

Elgar’s Introduction and Allegro, Op. 47, is complemented by novelties in the case of the never-before-recorded arrangements by Elgar’s friend and biographer W.H. Reed of the two Chansons – du Nuit and du Matin.

This is a beautiful album, with an intriguing mix of the familiar and the unknown. All the signs are that the former cellist Julian Lloyd Webber could be turning into a very fine conductor indeed.

Interlude January 27th, 2015

The Beauty of the English String Sound

We forget how much the English contributed to the beauty of orchestral music through their lush pastoral string writing. And the Bridge is Love, a new recording by the English Chamber Orchestra led by Julian Lloyd-Webber, brings all of this back to us. The recording is centred on music by Elgar, with excursions into Vaughan Williams, Delius, and up to modern composers such as Howard Goodall. And, because this is led by cellist Lloyd-Webber, the cello sound comes through beautifully.

Elgar, who really only achieved his breakthrough with the success of the Enigma Variations, begins the recording with two early 20th-century works: Introduction and Allegro for Strings, Op. 47 (1905) and 2 Sospiri, Op. 70 (1914), but later in the recording are arrangements by W.H. Reed, Elgar’s friend and biographer, of Elgar’s two Op. 15 works: the Chanson de nuit, Op. 15, No. 1 (1897) and the Chanson de matin, Op. 15, No. 2 (1899). Reed made these arrangements in 1939, but the works had originally been violin pieces, the second, written in 1897, dedicated to an amateur violinist in Worcester, and the first, written as a companion piece in 1899. The works were originally orchestrated by Elgar and performed in London in 1901, and these 1939 editions by Reed have never been recorded. They have a lighter feeling than Elgar’s arrangements and there’s a great deal of style in this performance.

The composer William Lloyd-Webber, father of Julian and Andrew, was a student of Elgar’s and his influence is evident in the work here. The song, ‘The Moon,’ setting a text by the Welsh poet William Henry Davies (1871-1940) appeared in 1950. Soon after, the composer arranged it for strings and it has never been recorded until now, a century after his birth.

Frederick Delius, quietly suffering in Paris from partial paralysis, had, as his amanuensis, the young composer Eric Fenby. Fenby made arrangements for string orchestra of two songs ‘to be sung of a summer’s night on the water,’ written for Charles Kennedy Scott and his Oriana Choir. The first performance of the a cappella work was in 1921. Fenby made his arrangements in 1932 and Delius’ wife, Jelka, sent them to Sir Thomas Beecham. Fenby’s arrangements gave a new life to the little works and they remain in the repertoire as orchestral, rather than choral works.

Other works on this recording include selections from Vaughan Williams’ The Charterhouse Suite, which itself is an arrangement of the 6 Short pieces for Piano; two works from William Walton’s music for the 1944 movie Henry V; and a selection from John Ireland’s A Dowland Suite (1942).

One notable work on the recording is the title work, Howard Goodall’s And the Bridge is Love, written in 2008. The title comes from Thornton Wilder’s novel The Bridge at San Luis Rey, and was written in honor of a young cellist who died in 2007. The work was commissioned by the Chipping Campden Festival and was given its première in 2008 with Julian Lloyd-Webber as soloist. This performance is carefully crafted and the work is beautiful and fits in well here, despite dating from some 69 to 80 years after most of the other works in this collection. Julian Lloyd-Webber has said that this performance of Howard Goodall’s work is his final recording as a cellist.

Julian and Jiaxin Lloyd Webber will be performing in Hong Kong on January 31st 2015.

Maureen Buja

David’s Review Corner February 2015

A disc of English string music that marks Julian Lloyd Webber’s debut recording as a conductor, and takes its title from Howard Goodall’s And the Bridge is Love. There is also sadness hidden away, as with this work for solo cello and strings Lloyd Webber brings to an end his career as a cellist, an injury to his shoulder preventing further concert appearances. When one door closes, another one opens, and we can now enjoy his exceptionally fine account of works by Elgar, an uncommonly virile and fast moving Introduction and Allegro opening a disc that finds the English Chamber Orchestra in fine form. That is equally true of their performance of the Serenade for Strings, though here Lloyd Webber takes a more leisurely view, the sadness he brings to slow central movement spilling over into the finale. Sospiri unfolds in an unhurried pace, and I much enjoy the unaffected reading of the two Chansons in the familiar string arrangement by William Reed Much tenderness in the two string pieces that Walton included in his film score for Shakespeare’s Henry V, and the two short Aquarelles by Delius in Eric Fenby’s arrangement. The novelty is the very attractive The Moon by the conductor’s father William Lloyd Webber which only received its premiere in 2014, and there is another world recording premiere in Goodall’s very sad work written in memory of a teenage cellist. Outstanding sound from the legendary Watford venue. I hope this the first of many from the Lloyd Webber baton. © 2015 David’s Review Corner

David Denton