Musical Opinion April 2010
Romantic Cello Concertos CD
JULIAN LLOYD WEBBER: ROMANTIC CELLO CONCERTOS
Rodrigo: Concierto como un divertimento; Delius: Concerto for cello and orchestra+;
Lalo: Cello Concerto in D minor
Julian Lloyd Webber, cello; London Philharmonic Orchestra, Jesus Lopez-Cobos, conductor; +Philharmonia Orchestra, Vernon Handley, conductor
Sony Music 88697570022
1 hour 17 minutes
This welcome reissue contains three of the soloists best concerto performances, especially the Delius (which is inspired). The work that Rodrigo wrote for Lloyd Webber, with its arresting bolero opening and sustained melodic interest, was first heard in 1982; the Sunday Times verdict of sumptuously listenable-to’ remains the most apt epithet The Lalo has always been a valuable contribution to the restricted cello repertoire with its appealing blend of strength and fancy all clothed in highly effective writing for the instrument, one wonders why it is not heard more. Both these concertos need a conductor who is thoroughly at home in the Spanish idiom and can bring his own flair to the proceedings (just as Pedro de Freitas Branco did in the case of the Lalo on the old Decca 78s with the legendary Suggia). López-Cobos is ideally cast here in support of his flamboyant soloist, and the extremely happy results carry to the listener.
The Cello Concerto was Delius’s favourite among his three string concertos, admired not only by Percy Grainger and others in his immediate circle but (perhaps a little surprisingly) by Elgar, who said he yearned to conduct it. Delius’s amanuensis Eric Fenby attributed its relative neglect to its difficulty and its rhapsodic form, though this particular recording has shown ever since its first incarnation on LP that the two essential requirements are a cellist and a conductor who thoroughly understand Delius’s idiom and can get inside his sound-world: in other words, two Delians through and through. Lloyd Webber and Vernon Handley both on top form and in perfect harmony of understanding, fully meet these requirements in this finely- tuned conception: with the newly-remastered recording sounding better than ever, this performance maintains its position as first choice.
Music Web-London Philharmonic April 2002
Daily Mail 6th July 2001
Julian Lloyd Webber: Celebration
Rodrigo, Lalo and Delius Cello Concertos
(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.
The New York Times 1st January 1984
Julian Lloyd Webber plays the Lalo Cello Concerto
Young Cellist Excels in Varied Repertory
Another young cellist who is making a considerable reputation for himself, particularly in Europe, is Julian Lloyd Webber, a British player who seems to nave a special interest in conservative 20th-century music. The first of his two most recent disks features a work he commissioned in 1979, the “Concierto como un Divertimento” by the Spanish composer Joaquin Rodrigo. This is a slight departure for Rodrigo. While the outer movements retain the kind of Iberian folk flavor that has been an identifying hallmark of Rodrigo’s music of the last 45 years, the central movement features a simple cello melody set over a misty, delicate and almost atonal backdrop. At the center of this unusual movement, he provides an attractive cadenza that moves between plucked guitar-like figuration and bowed chords, and which seems, at its climax, to refer to the cadenza of the “Concierto de Aranjuez,” Rodrigo best known work.
The Lalo Concerto, although a 19th-century work, is a logical companion piece: Like the Rodrigo, it makes references to typically Spanish melodic materials, while demanding the kind of Romantic expressivity that the cello yields so willingly. Mr. Webber brings a fulsome tone and an understated flair to both works (British RCA RL 25420, digitally imported by International Book and Record).
He seems even more at home, however, on his second disk, which features neglected works for cello and orchestra by Delius, Hoist and Vaughan Williams (British RCA RS 9010, digital). The Delius is, tor the most part, a bright, leisurely score that abounds in sweeping pastoral writing and lovely, extended cello lines that allow Mr. Webber to display his considerable facility without seeming unduly theatrical. Hoist’s early “Invocation” gives the cellist even sweeter material, and the “Fantasia on Sussex Folk Songs,” composed for Casals, is a lush piece with a surprisingly extroverted cadenza that seems a bit incongruous amid the simplicity of the folk tunes.