Faure Elegy

The Scotsman 28th August 2012

Classical review: National Youth Orchestra of Iraq, Greyfriars Kirk, Edinburgh

Star rating: * * * *

THE National Youth Orchestra of Iraq’s UK debut was a triumph on numerous levels, not least the fact of the concert itself, as playing together is something these talented young musicians cannot do in Iraq.

Many rely on Skype for lessons and audition via YouTube for the orchestra’s annual summer school and concerts held outwith the country. Despite such adverse conditions, the orchestra proved itsversatility in this varied programme, which included some fascinating works by Middle Eastern composers.

Osama Abdulrasol’s Habibu with its biting eastern rhythms couldn’t have been more different from Karzan Mahmood’s intricate For Dilan written in mainstream classical form. Oud virtuoso Khyam Allami seamlessly melded the traditional with the modern in his stunning An Alif/An Apex based on the Maqam, melodic modes used in Arabic music. He revealed a different side to the instrument in Gordon MacPherson’s dynamic Blood Dance, part of a larger concerto for Oud, which also interwove ancient and contemporary styles.

Music director and conductor Paul MacAlindin, who has worked with the orchestra since it was set up four years ago, has done a phenomenal job of nurturing an all-embracing musicianship, reinforced by members of the Edinburgh Youth Orchestra who mentored and supported the NYOI. Together with cellist Julian Lloyd Webber they gave an exquisite and moving account of Faure’s Elegie and despite its title, Schubert’s Tragic Fourth Symphony was brimming with youthful joie de vivre. Above all else the NYOI demonstrated how culture wins over politics every time.


www.classicsource.com April 2012

National Children’s Orchestra of Great Britain at Cadogan Hall with Julian Lloyd Webber

There are several advantages for the audience attending a youth orchestra concert: in the first place, the musicians are all pleased to be there, and are keen to do their best; secondly, rather more rehearsal time than is usually allotted to an orchestral concert will have been expended on preparing the programme, and last, the personnel is more often than not greater than those of professional orchestras, affording an added bonus of being able to perform large-scale works with a more suitable number of players asked for by the composers than is usually encountered.

All of these factors, and more, were in evidence in this concert by the main National Children’s Orchestra (its members aged 13 to 14 – there is a second orchestra, made up of under 13s), which comprised almost 120 musicians on the specially extended stage (only three percussionists, including timpani, were named in the programme, when at least five were in evidence). Of course, some might complain that in theory an orchestra made up youthful players cannot match in experience or musical understanding that of older professionals, but in practice one had to keep reminding oneself that these musicians were still at secondary schools, from across the country – absolutely no allowances had to be made for their age.

It was a terrific programme: the first work, Matthew Curtis’s Sinfonietta, was new to your correspondent (as was the composer, about whom the lavishly illustrated programme book told us nothing, other than he was born in 1959), the work coming across as a cleverly written, brilliantly orchestrated and somewhat substantial piece in three movements of more than 20 minutes’ duration, although a little deficient in terms of distinctive character. It was exceptionally well played, the orchestra relishing the challenges this gifted composer placed before them.

Julian Lloyd Webber joined the NCO for two short pieces: in Fauré’s haunting Élégie his rich tone told well against the very fine orchestral balance under Gavin Sutherland’s conducting, and the rare Frank Bridge Scherzetto proved a delightful foil. These two works were quite beautifully played and projected with genuine character.

Thus far, so good: but these welcome events did not entirely prepare us for an astonishingly assured and profoundly impressive account of Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique. With four harps and the rest of the orchestra almost in proportion (just six double basses out of a total string strength of 69 – in this splendid acoustic this was not a problem) the result was a performance that gripped from first bar to last, Gavin Sutherland directing with the commanding character and sensitive musicianship of a master, his wide experience here put to genuine effect. Thankfully, a recording of the concert was made, so the truth of my comments can be readily demonstrated; in terms of sheer committed musicianship, virtuosity and total involvement from every player, this was a performance such as one rarely hears, even from major orchestras – let us hope these musicians, should they go on to have adult playing careers, never lose their enthusiasm for making music. On this showing, it was downright tangible and incredibly uplifting in our current socio-economic climate.

Robert Matthew-Walker

Gramophone Classical Good CD Guide 2003

Favourite Cello Concertos

Albinoni (arr Palmer) Adagio in G minor

Bach (arr Palmer) Cantata No 147 — Jesu, joy of man’s desiring

Dvorák Cello Concerto in B minor, B191

Elgar Cello Concerto in F minor, Op 85. Romance, Op 62. Une idylle in G, Op 4 No 1

Fauré Elegie, Op 24 Gounod Ave Maria

Lloyd Webber Jackie’s Song

Saint-Sans Cello Concerto No 1 in A minor, Op 33. Allegro appassionato in B minor, Op 43. Le carnaval des animaux — Le cygne Schumann (air Palmer) Kinderszenen, Op 15d—Traumerei, Op 15 No 7

Tchaikovsky Variations on a Rococo Theme in A, Op 33

Julian Lloyd Webber c with various orchestras and conductors

Philips © 462 115-2PM2 (155 minutes: DDD) Recorded 1984-98

A first-class package in every way. Julian Lloyd Webber has a firm, richly coloured and full- focused tune. His lyrical warmth projects tellingly over the entire range and his involvement in the music communicates consistently and tellingly. He has chosen his accompanists well too. His account of the great Dvorák Concerto is full of passionate feeling, with a tender Adagio, and Neumann and the Czech Philharmonic give him thoroughly persuasive backing, playing with plenty of bite in tuttis, the Slavonic exuberance always to the fore. His performance of the Elgar concerto has the huge advantage of Lord Menuhin as his partner, a true Elgarian if ever there was one. It is a performance of real understanding and rare intensity, which never oversteps the work’s emotional boundaries and is imbued with innate nostalgia: the Adagio has a haunting Elysian stillness. The Saint-Saëns is played for the splendid bravura war-horse that it is, and we are also given a rare chance to hear the original, uncut version of Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations. Lloyd Webber soon proves that it is superior to the truncated version used in most other recordings; moreover his spontaneous warmth in Tchaikovsky’s long-drawn lyrical lines, which he makes sound very Russian in character, makes a perfect foil for the sparkling virtuosity elsewhere. Among the encores the lovely Traumerei stands out for its freely improvisational feeling and Lloyd Webber’s own tribute to Jacqueline du Pré is played as an ardent, tuneful and timely postscript.

The Washington Post 18th January 1994

Julian Lloyd Webber

With more than 30 recordings to his credit, cellist Julian Lloyd Webber need never fear about living in his brother Andrew’s shadow. And while concert artists rarely win mass acclaim – and of the few that do, still fewer are cellists – Julian Lloyd Webber’s star shines brightly in that small constellation of the deserving few.

Saturday night’s performance at the Jewish Community Center in Rockville showed why this should be so. Lloyd Webber brought a fine touch and a keen intellect to all that he and pianist John Lenehan played. Architecture was always in place, and each piece on this most challenging program conveyed a sense of journey, of departure and arrival.

The sweetest moments came in the most delicate exchanges – in Bach’s “Ich stehe mit einem Fuss im Grabe”, the Prologue to the Debussy Sonata, and, not surprisingly, in the gentle unfolding of Faure’s “Elegie”. All were crafted with the greatest of care – down to the triple-piano markings – and dispatched with exact intonation.

Lloyd Webber and Lenehan evinced the skills and vision to make the music memorable even when in the case of the Rachmaninov Sonata and the Frank Bridge encore, neglect might have consigned them to a different fate.

-Mark Carrington


Kraft aus der Synthese von Intellekt und Musikantentum

Salzburg: Der Cellist Julian Lloyd Webber Im Mozarteum

Gabriel Faures Elegie in c-Moll, op 24, – Ist das wirklich eine von jenen samtenen Musikschöpfungen, die zu nichts anderem gut sind, als daß sich ein Cellist mit Ihrer Hilfe zielstrebig Ins Herz seiner Zuhörer hinelnschmelchelt? Julian Lloyd Webber Ist ein erzmusikantischer Cellist, und ?jarum hat er diesem Stück nichts von seinem sentimentalen melodischen Reiz Benommen. Aber er Ist auch und vor allem ein hochintelligenter Cellist; einrr, der sich keineswegs mit einem sonoren Singsang die Bindebögen entlang zufrieden gibt. Er hält Faures Elegie eher im Mezzoforte und zeltweise in ganz Innigen Piano-Tö- nen, läßt den Schmelz also nur in kleiner Dosis zu. Und gerade deshalb bildet er mit seinem Cello kein akustisches Bollwerk zum Klavier hin, sondern lenkt das Interesse der Zuhörer hin zum Kollegen an den Tasten. Der Pianist bekommt so die Möglichkeit, ein wichtiges Stück Faure-VeretändnIs mitzuteilen: Faures harmonische Welten »ind »ehr genau geplante, vorimpressionistische Klangmalereien. Folgerichtig hat John Lenehan am Flügel der feinen Stimmung In den Akkorden nachhören können.

Es war eine durch und durch anregen- de Begegnung mit Violoncello-Literatur «us einem eher engen Zeitraum, zwischen 1880 und 1961.Sergej Rachmanlnow befrleolgte mit der g Moll Sonate, op. 19, durchaus Erwartungen’an Virtuosität und Schwärmerei. Benjamln Britten wollte mit seiner ?Sonata in C” (op. 65) wohl zeigen, daß das Schwelgen In den Melodien auch nach zwei Dezennien der Vorherrschaft serieller Kompositionswelsen seine Berechtigung hat, wenn es nur formal, strukturell gut abgesichert Ist.

Brittens Werk ist In dieser Hinsicht fürwahr gut »bgesichert. Und Uoyd Webber hat mit der ihm eigenen Kraft zur Synthese von Intellekt und Musikantentum ein bravourös aufgeschlüsseltes Bild von dieser Musik nachgezeichnet. Diese Etnton-Motive am Beginn, die so subtil In ihren Bewegungs- und Lautstärke-Werten verknüpft warenl Wieder hatte John Lenehan großen Anteil am stimmigen Ganzen, denn Brittens «So- nata” Ist nicht nur tm explizit so benannten ,Dialoge” ein eminent zwie-ge- sprachiges Werk. Der Londoner Pianist hat die Gabe, auch dichte Akkordpassagen mit beneidenswerter Klarheit und Schlankheit umzusetzen. Und er trifft mit schlafwandlerischer Sicherheit jeweils genau die dynimlsche Balance.

Der Abend war b-imerkenswert auch und gerade wegen der Übereinstim- mung zwischen dem Cellisten und sei- nem Begleiter.

Reinhard KriechtMum

Fono Forum September 1991

Julian Lloyd Webber

Faure Elegie

Saint Saens Cello Concerto

Saint-Saens, Konzert für Violoncello op. 33, Allegro appassionato op. 43,

Faure, Elegie op. 24, d’Indy, Lied, op. 19,

Honegger, Konzert für Violoncello;

Julian Lloyd Webber (Violoncello), English Chamber Orchestra, Yan Pascal Tortelier;

Aufnahmedatum: 1990

Klangbild: Transparent, gut durchhörbar.

Fertigung: Einwandfrei.

Julian Loyd Webber spielt hier ein sinnvoll aufeinander bezogenes Programm ein, das der Art seines Cellospiels charakterlich und ausdrucksmäßig ideal entgegenkommt. Sein Ton besitzt nichts Sonores oder Schweres, noch mimt er den draufgängerischen Virtuosen. Vielmehr prägt sein Cellospiel eine eher weiche, aber dabei gesanglich-flexible Timbrierung ganz eigener Art, die fast körperlos wirkt. Dem entsprechen in diesem Programm Werke, die in ihrer Faktur unverkennbar von Opern- oder doch Vokalmusik geprägt sind: Das Cello dominiert gesanglich, in nicht abbrechender melodischer Kontinuität. Auf diese Weise bezieht ein intensiver Lyrismus alle Stücke aufeinander, so unterschiedlich sie stilistisch auch sein mögen. Demgegenüber bleibt die Orchesterbegieitung gewissermaßen als klanglicher Kontrapunkt stets deutlich, transparent und klar; sie wirkt zu jeder Zeit klanglich-suggestiv, aber nie rauschhaft-impressionistisch.

Solch ein interpretatorischer Ansatz kommt besonders dem wunderbaren Cello-konzert von Honegger zugute, das wie ein Potpourri unterschiedlichster Musiktypen, einschließlich der Unterhaltungsmusik, wirken mag, hier aber in den lyrischen Partien eine innere Mitte erhält. Die Musik verliert auch alles Vulgäre oder Naive, vioimcnr wirkt sie fast schon rührend-kindlich. Es ist als ob ein unermeßliches Harmomebedürinis noch die unterschiedlichsten Musikarten aufeinander bezieht, die alle die gleiche Authentizität beanspruchen können. Das ist ein – wenn dieses Schlagwort gebraucht werden darf fast schon ?postmoderner” Interpretationsansatz.

Giselher Schubert

The Daily Telegraph 22nd March 1991


Saint-Saens:Cello Concerto; Allegro appassionato.

Honegger Cello Concerto.

Faure:Elegie. 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