Sullivan Cello Concerto

Gramophone Good CD Guide 1999

Sullivan Cello Concerto

Sullivan Cello Concerto in D major (reconstr. Mackerras and Mackie). Symphony in E major, “Irish”. Overture di ballo.

Elgar Romance, Op. 62 (arr. vc).

Julian Lloyd Webber (vc); London Symphony Orchestra / Sir Charles Mackerras; Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra / Sir Charles Groves.

EMI British Composers CDM7 64726-2 (71 minutes: ADD/DDD: 4/94). Items marked from CDC7 47622-2 (2/87), recorded 1986; HMV ASD2435 (2/69), recorded 1968.

Sir Charles Groves’s sturdy yet affectionate reading of Arthur Sullivan’s wholly charming Irish Symphony was always one of the best of his EMI offerings with the RLPO and the 1968 recording remains vivid. In the sparkling Overture di hallo, again, Groves conducts with plenty of character. There are also first-rate performances of Sullivan’s undemanding Cello Concerto from 1866 (in a fine reconstruction by Sir Charles Mackerras – the manuscript was destroyed in Chappell’s fire of 1964) as well as Elgar’s wistful little Romance (originally for bassoon). This is a thoroughly attractive mid-price reissue.

The Los Angeles Daily News March 13th 1987

Sullivan’s only concerto a classic




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.