The Los Angeles Daily News March 13th 1987
Sullivan’s only concerto a classic
SULLIVAN: CELLO CONCERTO IN D
HERBERT: CELLO CONCERTO NO. 2
Julian Lloyd Webber, Sir Charles Mackerras, London Symphony Orchestra.
Our rating: B
Sir Arthur Sullivan (of Gilbert and) wrote but one concerto, but we’ve had to wait until now to hear a recording of it (Angel CDC 47622, CD). And even this performance hinges on a lucky break that the man who last conducted it (Mackerras in 1953) had a memory so photographic, he was able to reconstruct the orchestral parts that were destroyed in a 1964 fire.
It’s a delightful find, too, particularly the bucolic third movement with its lengthy, effortlessly flowing outbreaks of perpetual motion for the cellist. It might not be top-drawer Sullivan, with only the faintest pre-echoes of the Gilbert and Sullivan comic operas, but it could easily carve out a place in the too-small cello repertory – and Webber plays it with warmth and affection.
Webber – whose brother Andrew is the massively popular musicals composer also essays a cello transcription of Elgar’s sentimental but pleasant “Romance” that lay unknown until 1985, as well as the sometimes brooding, conventionally Romantic but not-too-sweet concerto by Victor Herbert. The whole CD is quite a programming coup; two attractive cello concertos by composers whom almost everyone thought were exclusively welded to the stage.
RICHARD S. GINELL