Turkish Daily News 27th June 2007
Classic brilliance resonates in ancient walls
Istanbul Concert Review
Music gently winds through the corridors of the ancient Byzantine structure Hagia Eirini, at the concert, Festival Meetings II, performed by an acclaimed cellist, cello quartet and pianist
As four cellists raise their bows in the air and strike the cellos strings with utmost grace, Bach’s Air in D Major gently resonates in a former Eastern Orthodox Church, Hagia Eirini Museum (Aya lrini) at the Topkapi Palace on Monday night. As the music gently whines through the corridors of the ancient Byzantine structure and rises to the atrium, a surreal musical journey begins in an enchanting setting of history and culture that creates the perfect atmosphere for music lovers of all ages. Festival Meetings II, featuring an acclaimed cellist, Julian Lloyd Webber, cello quartet çellistanbul and pianist Pam Chowhan is part of the 35th International Istanbul Music Festival. The festival is the latest creation of a creative musician and an ensemble of musicians whose passion for classical sound resonates from their soul. Istanbul’s own cello quartet ‘çeliistanbul’, started the audience on a journey of choral harmonies. Inspired by the city Istanbul and its magical atmosphere, the group is formed of cellists who graduated from the same Conservatoire of music their repertoire includes classical as well as modern works. “I am on a Long, Narrow Road” was a special composition for the quartet based on Asik Veysel’s melody that proved to the audience they were witnessing brilliant performers.
Each cord was played in unison echoing the emotion of the music on the individual faces and swaying bodies 0r the cellists. The group was one entity playing off each other’s enthusiasm and passion. Their long composition was met with equal pleasure from the audience as each note created tension in the already thick church air. The last note in the composition is held in harmony. The audience holds its breath. Time stops. The note finishes. The stunned audience breaks the silence with loud cheers and applause.
The group also known for their works of tango and jazz finish off their set with Tango Passionata and Polonaise. The second set welcomes Julian Lloyd Webber to the stage with Pam Chowham accompanying him on the piano. He too begins with Bach’s C Major Adagio followed by Scherzetto. At first the music did not flow together.
There seemed to be tension as each performer kept looking for signs and warmth the two instruments should create. It was not until Scherzo Pizzicato that the union warmed up and put their bows aside; Webber played the cello with his fingers. Claude Debussy’s Sonata (1915) was long and stunning. Inspired with patriotic sentiments his music flowed with watery magic to dark virtuosity. It was multi-faceted brilliance that was written for the flute, piano and cello and it worked with Chowhan accompanying Webber on the piano. The night was not over yet, as ‘çellistanbul’ joined Webber on stage to perform the last three compositions. Beginning with Astor Piazzolla’s Oblivion, the groups performance highlights not only Webber’s amazing ability to take original scores and create a compelling rhythm, hut to depict character through music that shows his way of bringing life to his playing, It would not be a Webber production without performing one of his brothers most popular songs from the popular musical Jesus Christ Superstar, “I Don’t Know How to Love Him.” The audience was really alive and hoped there was more when the performance ended. The silence was extensive and finally broken with loud applause. The applause brought Webber and the ‘çellistanbul’ quartet back on stage to perform an encore of Astor Piazolla’s Oblivion. This time when the last cord was held, the audience knew once the sound reached the atrium, the performance was truly over. A standing ovation ended a magical myriad of classical ethereal sound that was performed brilliantly.
Gramophone Magazine March 1987
A. LLOYD WEBBER (arch. Cullen). Variations for cello and orchestra
W. S. LLOYD WEBBER. Aurora-tone poem.
* Julian Lloyd Webber (vc); London Philharmonic Orchestra /Lorin Maazel.
Philips digital CD 420 342-1PH; 420 342-4PH; CD 420 342-2PH (45 minutes).
To have produced a Webber/Webber/Webber record was a splendid idea, the very different skills of the three musicians of the family (so far) contrasting well, yet also integrating well: perhaps this, in very many circumstances, is the ideal family relationship.
- S. Lloyd Webber started it all: his Aurora is a gentle piece about the Roman Goddess of the Dawn, of Youth and of Beauty. With this background, faithfully reproduced, you could hardly miss; and in his charming piece (Chausson, perhaps Dukas, come to mind) William does indeed come nowhere near missing.
Andrew’s Variations-on a theme of Paganini, the expected one – reflect a similar degree of skill; even so, there are few moments when Andrew’s music could be mistaken for William’s (though perhaps there are many which would have puzzled him). As the Variations are long (a side and a hall) they should be, and indeed are, very varied. Not often out-and-out pop in style (the first recording on MCA MCL18l6, 4/78-was scored for cello and six-piece rock band), yet equally not often out-and-out classical in style; instead there are cross-currents, with the scoring giving often unusual and piquant colour (David Cullen contributing excellently here) to music which does on occasion need this help (as most lengthy pieces do in places). It is easy to enjoy the music; when these variations were the ‘Dance’ half of Andrew’s Song and Dance show many thousands of theatre-goers did so, and many of today’s record buyers stand a good chance of doing the same. The solo cello contribution to the score – approaching that of a concerto soloist yet not quite that – is played splendidly by, of course, Julian (who ends by contributing a resonant bottom A, probably the lowest note on the cello ever recorded).
Lovers of the unusual. of course, need no recommendation: this record is self-evidently for them. Collectors of versions of Paganini’s twenty-fourth Caprice (these versions are by now a large family) also need no recommendation. (As in the case of William, some of these variations would have puzzled Paganini; few would, I think, have angered him.) And, self-evidently, automatic admirers of everything Andrew does also need no recommendation. For listeners in none of these three categories: well, perhaps, caution might be advised.