Encore! Travels with My Cello Vol.2

Gramophone March 1987


Julian Lloyd Webber (vc);

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra / Nicholas Cleobury.

Lloyd Webber’s cello is off on its travels again: Catfish Row, Sweden, Turkey, France, Skye, Spain, Japan, ‘Somewhere’, Germany, India, Vienna. And one geographically unidentifiable, Vangelis for his Une apres-midi. This is written for synthesizers, which on this occasion imitate an orchestra unbelievably well; indeed, the live solo cello, perhaps unnerved by all the surrounding machinery, here takes on a bit more of the standard synthesizer quality than its accompanists do.

Otherwise it feels at home, singing its way naturally through a repertoire varied not only by geography. Most is familiar: Bess, Jesu joy. Song of India, and such; some is not: Hamabe no uta is not, Taube’s Nocturne is not. For this last Taube’s son, Sven-Bertil the actor, contributes some guitar-playing: for the Carmen Habanera there is also an effective guitar, but played by a different player. Basically the accompaniment is the RPO contributing some gorgeous sounds, but also inevitably raising the question of whether these sounds are out of proportion accompanying a solo string-player in basically light repertoire. Once, for McCartney’s When I’m 64, highly uncharacteristic sounds (not at all out of proportion!) are made: I expect the players enjoyed themselves greatly!

And of course Lloyd Webber contributes, everywhere, gorgeous cello-playing: always simple in outline, always just right for the simple outline concerned. He contributes, too. short notes on the various pieces, which (seemingly exceptionally for today) are actually printed in the right order! So far as they go, that is; the note on the last piece seems to have been mislaid somewhere.