Shostakovich Cello Concerto no1

Birmingham Post March 2nd 2012

Review: Orchestra Of The Swan, at Birmingham Town Hall


The Orchestra of the Swan has always been a sparky band, full of genuine pleasure in its music-making and creating, merely through its body-language, an amazing rapport with audiences wherever it performs.

But last Wednesday it seemed to click even higher on the personality-scale, projecting with an in-your-face extra notch of confidence which drew us even further in to the music’s charmed world. The winds seemed particularly galvanised (implying no reservations about their previous performances), relishing specially the colours of Mozart’s ‘Jupiter’ Symphony, now sparkling, now seductive, and rising to the demands of the finale’s amazing counterpoint with brilliant success.

This was a totally satisfying account under the genial, smiling conducting of David Curtis, and one which made me, who worship Mozart on my knees, feel grateful for this revelatory reading.

Possibly the reason for this extra flow of adrenaline was the collaboration during this well-attended afternoon of Julian Lloyd Webber, soloist in Shostakovich’s busy and searing First Cello Concerto. This is a work which puts immense physical demands upon the hard-working cellist (never mind the technical challenges), but here there was never any sense of “look at me” from Lloyd Webber, but instead a totally committed integration with this heroic orchestra. They perform Shostakovich with relish, and with such a musicianly soloist the result was stunning.

By Christopher Morley

Artsmart 25th February 2010

KZNPO Concert

Gratifyingly large audience for all-Russian concert.

This was an all-Russian concert, the modern and the late-Romantic, Shostakovich and Rachmaninov, and there was a gratifyingly large audience in the Durban City Hall to hear another excellent performance from the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra and a distinguished soloist.

The conductor was Yasuo Shinozaki from Japan, small of stature but big in personality, as he has shown in previous appearances here. The soloist was the English cellist Julian Lloyd-Webber.

The concert opened with a brilliant account of Shostakovich’s Festive Overture, conducted and performed with great vigour and enthusiasm. Shostakovich was a master of orchestration and he shows all his skills in this short work. The 70 players involved obviously enjoyed the performance, as did the audience. Here was proof again that, good as they may be, CDs and other recorded music are not quite like a live performance by a big orchestra.

Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 1 in E flat major was written in 1959, fifty years ago, but it is still very modern to most ears. It has an unusual structure. There are four movements but only one break, so the work is divided into two parts. One of those movements is a lengthy Cadenza for solo cello. The first movement is dominated by a four-note phrase and it is typically astringent. The Moderato that follows is a good deal more mellow and approachable, and there is a fast finale with driving rhythms.

Julian Lloyd-Webber, a burly man who looks younger than his 58 years, is a cellist of the first rank, and he played this difficult work with great sensitivity and authority. The cadenza, full of tricky double-stopping, gave him ample opportunity to display his technical prowess, and he produced a beautiful tone in the cantabile passages.

This concerto is scored for strings, wind instruments, celeste and a solitary horn. The conductor and all the players deserve commendation for their contribution. In response to prolonged applause, Julian Lloyd-Webber played an encore, sustaining the modern mood with a short piece by Benjamin Britten.

After the interval the orchestra scored another success with Rachmaninov’s long and eloquent Symphony No. 2 in E minor. The audience seemed to find this an interesting and not displeasing comparison with what had gone before.

Michael Green

Trouw 8th December 1993


Monday 6th December 1993 – Shostakovich Cello Concerto


I get goose-flesh from the motif with which Dmitri Shostakovich starts his first Cello Concerto. It sounds as if someone is whistling in the dark, afraid but nevertheless brave.

On Monday night in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw cellist Julian Lloyd Webber presented that motif in a totally natural way; he also highlighted the undertone of melancholy that is so present in this concerto. The atmosphere of desolation showed itself most clearly in the long cadenza which forms the third movement of four movements.

I was afraid that the rather bronchial audience would disturb that delicate solo-reverie on the strings. But the intensity that Lloyd Webber gave in his presentation forced everyone into breathless attention.

That cadenza is placed between orchestral sections which have a quasi-cheerful and sometimes chaotic atmosphere: the cellist is either leading or being dragged along; the duets are beautiful, especially those with the hornplayer. His signals sounded loud and dramatic from the far back of the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, but they also sounded comical, because the flexible cello gives the lumbering horn a lot to do. Fortunately conductor Vassili Sinaiski was able to count on his alert musicians.

Repertoire August 1992


Adagio du ruisseau limpide. – TCHAIKOVSKI Variations rococo, Nocturne en ré mineur

Julian Lloyd Webber (violoncelle)

Orchestre Symphonique de Londres

Dir. Maxime Chostakovitch

Sous le titre ‘ d’oeuvres représtatives du post-romantisme académique russe’, l’excellent livret de P.E. Barbier nous définit le cheminement créatif et les points communs de ces quatre opus. Le Concerto dc Miaskovski (auteur entre autres de 27 Symphonies et de 9 Sonates publiées que l’on écoutera avec profit dans l’intégrale McLachlan chez Olympia) est une pure merveille d’écriture lisztienne et schuman-nienne. Le violoncelle est traité comme la voix humaine et l’orchestration très riche crée une notion et attige d espace qui permet au ta lent très improvisateur de Webber de s’exprimer.

Avec l’Adagio du ruisseau limpide de Chostakovitch. on tient la première occidentale de la quatrième partie (Adagio des cinq tableaux de cette « comédie-ballet e, chorégraphie des années 1929/1934. Avec la mise â l’index de l’opéra Lady Mac- bath de Chostakovitch et par là- même du début de la dictature musicale de l’ère nouvelle stalinienne, l’auteur du Net avait choisi un thème propre à mettre en avant l’ironie d’une action se situant entre Kholkoziens dans une ferme collective à Cuba… L’Adagio fait partie de la suite d’orchestre. Voyons-y un sublime pastiche d’un ballet tchaïkovskien (cantilène du violoncelle avec accompagnement de harpe) où, subi tement, émerge l’harmonie et la rythmique de la future Leningrad. Certes plus concertantes et moins originales, les Variations rococo et le Nocturne (tiré d’une des nombreuses transcriptions du numéro 4 de l’opus 19 pour piano seul sont joués avec une grande sobriété par Webber qui. évite toute surcharge â ces pages surannées concluant intelligemment cc récital bien ficelé.

Stéphane Friéderich

Daily Telegraph 30th May 1981

Shostakovich Cello Concerto review

Shostakovich Cello Concerto/Royal Philharmonic/Yuri Termikanov

“His intuitive yet deeply contemplative sympathy with the work rang out in the slow movement.”

Peter Stadlen