Bridge Elegy

Penguin Guide to CDs 2000/1

British Cello Music Vol.2

‘British cello music’, Vol. 2
(with John McCabe, piano): STANFORD: Sonata No. 2, op. 39.
BRIDGE: Elegy; Scherzetto. IRELAND: Sonata in G min.

The Stanford Second Cello sonata (1893 — written between the Fourth and Fifth Symphonies) is revealed here as an inspired work whose opening theme flowers into great lyrical warmth on Lloyd Webber’s ardent bow. The focus of the recording is a little diffuse, but that serves to add to the atmosphere. Ireland’s Sonata, too, is among his most richly inspired works, a broad-spanning piece in which ambitious, darkly intense outer movements frame a most beautiful Poco largamente. Again Lloyd Webber, who has long been a passionate advocate of the work, conveys its full expressive power. The Bridge Elegy (written as early as 1911) is another darkly poignant evocation which points forward to the sparer, more austere style of the later Bridge, and the Scherzetto (even earlier, 1902) makes a winning encore: it should ideally have been placed at the end of the recital. John McCabe is a sympathetic partner — in spite of the balance — but this collection offers what are among Lloyd Webber’s finest performances on disc.

BBC Music Magazine January 1993

British Cello Music Vol.2 CD


Stanford:Cello Sonata No.2
Ireland: Cello Sonata in G minor
Bridge: Elegy; Scherzetto
Julian Lloyd Webber (cello), John McCabe (piano)

Put simply, this is just marvellous cello playing. Julian Lloyd Webber joins forces again with the pianist John McCabe to produce a second volume of British music for cello and piano. This disc includes three world premiere recordings, two works by Frank Bridge and the wholly remarkable Second Cello Sonata in D minor by Stanford. Written in 1893, Stanford’s three-movement sonata could almost stand as the third cello sonata that Brahms never wrote. The expansiveness of the music draws passionate but beautiful playing from Lloyd Webber, lyrical at the top of the register but also particulalry resonant at the bottom. Bridge’s Elegy is wistful rather than tragic like Faure’s sombre Elegie.

The surprise on this disc is Bridge’s Scherzetto, written in 1902. Lloyd Webber discovered it in the library of the Royal College of Music while still a student there, giving its first performance in only 1979. It is a brilliant, virtuoso work full of skittish zest which Lloyd Webber controls impressively; a perfect piece for an encore.

Ireland’s Sonata written in 1923 is more conventional, but receives a highly committed performance from Lloyd Webber and the admirably neat-fingured John McCabe.

– Annette Morreau