d’Indy Lied for cello and orchestra

The Daily Telegraph 22nd March 1991


Saint-Saens:Cello Concerto; Allegro appassionato.

Honegger Cello Concerto.


D’indy: Lied. Honegger Julian Lloyd Webber/ English Chamber Orchestra. Yan Pascal Tortelier (Philips 432084-2)

Julian Lloyd Webber’s bold start to Saint-Saens’s A minor Cello Concerto similarly finds the essence of urgency in the music right away, going on to develop a mature bloom of sound in passages of quiet, lyrical yearning.

And the “Allegro appassionato” makes a marvellous ending to his all-French disc: as if it were an encore, this is a delightful, rhythmically spicy, gypsy-inflected confection lasting only a few moments, but one in which Lloyd Webber encapsulates all its fire and ardent swooning.

In between, he plays the perennial Faure “Elegie” with an endearing freshness of grief-laden emotion, tastefully judged, unintrusive in its expression, and in the “Lied” by Vincent d’lndy the unadorned melodic beauty (with lovely touches of orchestration) is spun out with affecting simplicity.

Honegger’s Cello Concerto is a welcome and uncommon inclusion here. Its languorous, almost seductive opening is by no means an accurate guide as to what is to follow, for at times Honegger abruptly punctuates the flow with something altogether more angular.

The music’s strange switches of mood from a quasi-nightclubby lilt to aggressive outbursts hint at dark undertones which the buoyant final section does not wholly dispel. Lloyd Webber is a persuasive, probing protagonist.

Geoffrey Norris