Music Web 2nd April 2002

Celebration by Julian Lloyd Webber



Joaquín RODRIGO Concierto como un Divertimento

Heitor VILLA-LOBOS Bachoianas Brasileiras No. 5 – aria

Edouard LALO Cello Concerto

David POPPER Gavotte No. 2

Camille SAINT-SAËNS Softly Awakes My Heart

Gabriel FAURÉ Elégie

Manuel de FALLA Ritual Fire Dance


Frederick DELIUS Cello Concerto

Frederick DELIUS Serenade from Hassan

Gustav HOLST Invocation

Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIANS Fantasia on Sussex Folk Tunes

J S BACH Arioso

Frank BRIDGE Scherzetto

Joseph CANTELOUBE Baïlero

Max BRUCH Kol Nidrei

Julian Lloyd Webber (cello)

LPO/Jesus Lopez-Cobos (Rodrigo; Lalo)

Philharmonia/Vernon Handley (Delius Concerto, RVW, Holst)

National PO/Charles Gerhardt (the rest)

These two CDs collect together recordings originally made during the period 1980-83.

The Rodrigo is spirited, sharp, vital and fluent – always singing and alive and with no hint academicism. The second movement appears to extol moonlit Mauresque gardens. A lovely ethereal sound captured with fidelity to stage depth and dynamic. This is typical Rodrigo – familiar from Aranjuez and Gentilhombre and to be relished. The cooling pools are given new twist of lime in the finale. The stereo separation is wonderful in the Gerhardt arrangement of the aria from the Villa-Lobos Bachianas.

The emphatically melodramatic Lalo Concerto has the tone of a concerto that would fit as an interlude in a grand French opera such as those by Reyer, Massenet or Saint-Saens. Lloyd Webber summons up, for the andantino, the same soulfully plangent tone on which he also draws to such grand effect in the rather soupy Kol Nidrei and in the sentiment-soaked Softly awakes my heart. By the way BMG it is Camille not Camile. The Bach arioso is done with dignity staying just the right side of the line of least resistance. It is done with great dignity.

Popper’s Gavotte is a plaything with which Lloyd Webber gambols. It contrasts with the Fauré Elegie which muses gravely. Lloyd Webber projects with hoarse extroversion in the Ritual Fire Dance investing its every turn and twist with life and freshness – quite an accomplishment in such a warhorse. The Bridge Scherzetto is one of the three cello and pieces orchestrated by Francis Cornford. The initial vigour goes into remission in face of some sentimental poesy. Speaking of which we come to Canteloube’s Baïlero. Here Lloyd Webber’s sustained tone is all autumn gold and soft contours. This is superbly accomplished stuff and Gerhardt is sensitive and supportive in weaving a glimmering orchestral web.

The second CD includes almost an hour of British music. He has made sturdily imaginative, considered and perceptive recordings of the Stanford Cello Sonata No 2, the Delius Sonata and for Lyrita (still LP-bound I’m afraid) the Frank Bridge Oration. It is no surprise then to find Lloyd Webber singing his way through the single movement Delius Concerto. Fenby’s arrangement of the Serenade from Hassan is done with a smoother Delian spirit by Gerhardt with the National Philharmonic. Handley whose Eventyr and North Country Sketches are excellent seemed not to have come fully to terms with the yielding poetry of the Cello Concerto. By the way the notes say that Hassan is the stage production of James Elroy Flecker’s poem The Golden Road to Samarkand. It isn’t. The Golden Road is a poem which forms part of the Flecker stage play Hassan which tells an Arabian tale of cruelty, love and illusions.

The Holst Invocation was revived specially for the original 1979 recording alongside the RVW and the Delius Concerto. It is luminously orchestrated and while it has the songful fragrance of the potted palms of the grand hotel and of Dvorak it also reaches modestly out towards the more ethereal realms of The Ode to Death and Neptune. While Wagnerian rainbows shimmer so do the mysteries Holst was to unlock in later years. This is extremely well done by all concerned.

Starting as if it has escaped from Holst’s Beni Mora the Sussex Folk Fantasia only gradually settles into a style we associate with Vaughan Williams. Perhaps it is that we are unused to RVW and the solo cello. And my how Lloyd Webber makes the instrument sing and call. The piece was written for Casals who premiered it at the Queen’s Hall on 13 March 1930. Barbirolli conducted the concert which was for the occasion of the presentation of the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Gold Medal. The jauntiness reminded me of the Tunning of Elinor Rumming from Five Tudor Portraits as well as, and surprising this, Aaron Copland. Vaughan Williams intended a full length cello concerto but this, rather like the opera Tom the Rhymer, was to remain an unfulfilled project when death intervened in 1958.

The Popper, Saint-Saens and Bach are in arrangements by the conductor, the late Charles Gerhardt.

The notes variously by the soloist, Ursula Vaughan Williams, Eric Fenby, David Matthews and Imogen Holst are one of the legion strengths of this release.

Allowing for my reservations about the Delius Concerto this is a truly lovely collection that proclaims a master cellist as adept, sensitive and enthusiastic about the etincellante and operatic as about the quiet singer – fluent and direct speaking – no musicians’ musician but someone engaged with his audience. I must not forget to mention the orchestral contribution which is unfailingly alert, varied and sensitive to mood and nuance. Recommended. I am only sorry I did not pick up this release earlier.

Rob Barnett

Daily Mail 6th July 2001

Julian Lloyd Webber: Celebration


(RCA 74321-8411 2-2)

THIS two-disc set brings back some of Julian Lloyd Webber’s most valuable recordings. Among them are Rodrigo’s Concierto Como Un Divertimento, written for JLW, and Holst’s short but powerful Invocation. The two longest works are the Dellus Concerto, which JLW plays as well as anyone, and the popular Concerto in D minor by Lalo. For the cellist’s 50th birthday Philips also has an important reissue, a coupling of the Elgar and Walton Concertos (464 700-2).

The Elgar is perhaps the finest available recording and it is good to have it split from Menuhin’s unmemorable Enigma Variations.



Gramophone June 2001

Celebration review

A fitting compilation of Lloyd Webber’s emotionally committed performances of favourites and some lesser-known pieces.

This attractively mixed collection, drawn from discs made for RCA in the early 80s, makes a splendid 50th birthday tribute to Julian Lloyd Webber, consistently bringing out the warmth and spontaneity of his playing. The Rodrigo Concerto, commissioned by and dedicated to Lloyd Webber, proves a stronger, more positive work than I remembered. The sequence of striking ideas— including inevitable reminiscences of Concierto de Aranjuez – — inspires a vibrant, purposeful performance from the soloist. The Lalo -— also with López-Cobos and the LPO — brings another powerful, passionate performance, with Spanish flavours underlined.

The shorter pieces are all sharply characterised too, a varied and colourful sequence, with Lloyd Webber’s vigour and warmth matched by fine playing from Gerhardt and the National Philharmonic. For the English items Vernon Handley and the Philharmonia are Lloyd Webber’s partners. And there the deep dedication of his playing holds together works that might easily seem to meander.

So the Delius Concerto brings a performance more deeply emotional than usual, and the Holst Invocation sets in high contrast the hushed dedication of the opening and the passion of the climax. The Vaughan Williams, too, is most welcome for bringing out of limbo a long—neglected work, and the sequence ends with a tender, expansive reading of Bruch’s Kol Nidrei, similarly improvisatory. With first—rate sound it is good to have all these items back in the catalogue, a warm portrait of an open hearted artist.

Edward Greenfield

Julian Lloyd Webber (vc)

London Philharmonic Orchestra; National Philharmonic Orchestra;

Philharmonia Orchestra/Charles Gerhardt; Jesús López-Cobos; Vernon Handley

Bach Concerto for Harpsichord and Strings,BWV1056 – Largo

Bridge Scherzetto,H19.

Bruch Kol Nidrei,Op. 47.

Canteloube Chants d’Auvergne – Baïlèro

Delius Concerto for Cello and Orchestra,RTVII/7.

Hassan,RTI/9 – Serenade (violin solo)

Falla El Amor brujo – Ritual Fire Dance

Fauré Elégie,Op. 24.

Holst Invocation,H75 Op. 19/2.

Lalo Concerto for Cello and Orchestra.

Popper Gavotte No 2,Op. 23.

Rodrigo Concierto como un Divertimento.

Saint-Saëns Samson et Dalila – Mon coeur s’ouvre à ta voix

Vaughan Williams Fantasia on Sussex Folk Tunes.

Villa-Lobos Bachianas Brasileiras No 5.

BBC Music Magazine June 2001

Julian Lloyd Webber plays the Delius Cello Concerto

Works by Rodrigo, Villa-Lobos, Lalo, Saint-Saëns, Delius, etc

Julian Lloyd Webber (cello); LPO/Jesus

Lopez-Cobos, National PO/Charles

Gerhardt, Philharmonia Orchestral

Vernon Handley

BMG marks Julian Lloyd Webber’s half-century by revisiting some of his memorable RCA recordings of the early Eighties. It’s surprising that the agreeably tuneful concerto written for him in 1979 by Joaquin Rodrigo has not been mote widely embraced by other cellists. Only now, some 19 years after its Royal Festival Hall premiere, has it found its way on to CD, though Lloyd Webber’s performance is just as magnetic as I remembered from LP days, and BMG’s new CD transfer is excellent.

Disc 1 of this compilation also includes works by Villa-Lobos, Falla, Popper and others, and Lloyd Webber’s nobly measured account of the Lalo Concerto has a degree of purposeful gravitas that commands attentive listening. However, the British works grouped on the second disc reveal Lloyd Webber’s finest interpretative attributes, especially in a reading of the Delius Concerto that’s much the finest since du Pre’s, and arguably more plausible and engrossing for what it leaves to the imagination of the listener. Lloyd Webber’s more introspective style comes closer to capturing the fleeting spirit of the work than does du Pre’s full-on ardour, and the recording is again first class. A hearty birthday feast that’s well worth investigating.

Michael Jameson


SOUND ****