Whitacre – The River Cam

Gramophone May 2012

Whitacre – ‘Water Night’

Water Night

Eric Whitacre – ‘The River Cam’

Julian Lloyd Webber

London Symphony Orchestra/Eric Whitacre

‘Inspired once more by his time at Cambridge and played with a combination of power and restraint by Julian Lloyd Webber, The River Cam’s lustrous pastel colours evoke Vaughan Williams.’

Pwyll ap Sion

Strad Magazine July edition 2011

60th Birthday Concert, ROYAL FESTIVAL HALL, LONDON, 14 APRIL 2011

Julian Lloyd Webber attracted an A-list cast of musical friends to celebrate his 60th birthday with him. As a cellist he has always been equally at home in traditional repertoire and popular music – he was famously featured in the South Bank Show TV signature tune – and here he was at ease with Cleo Laine, whose performance of ‘He was Beautiful’ with Lloyd Webber accompanying wooed the audience. The cello’s role in education was celebrated with the ‘In Harmony’ children’s project playing Frank Biddulph’s Hot Gold, while cellists from the Royal College of Music performed Klengel’s Hymnus and the Aria from the fifth Bachianas brasileiras by Villa-Lobos. Here soprano Danielle de Niese wove her magic, shortly followed by violinist Tasmin Little and organist Jane Watts in a charming Benedictus by Julian’s father William Lloyd Webber, which glistened with post-Elgarian harmonies.

Nor could a celebration of Julian’s career omit his brother Andrew’s influence, hence The Phantom of the Opera cunningly strolled into the musical fare. A world premiere from Eric Whitacre for cello and orchestra was a welcome present, but the Elgar Cello Concerto partnered by the Phiharmonia Orchestra under Christopher Warren-Green had greater impact: Lloyd Webber performed it with awesome technical élan and a real empathy for the musical idiom.

Joanne Talbot

Strings Magazine June 13th 2011

Cellist Julian Lloyd Webber’s 60th Birthday Gala

Public event was a celebration of a ‘beautiful, temperamental instrument’

Cellist Julian Lloyd Webber’s 60th birthday gala at London’s Royal Festival Hall on April 14 was a celebration of the “beautiful, temperamental instrument” (his words) that dominates his life. It was also a reminder of his remarkable versatility—he shared the stage with his wife, the cellist Jiaxin Cheng; and his composer brother, Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber; violinist Tasmin Little; soprano Danielle de Niese; jazz singer Dame Cleo Laine; and the Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by Christopher Warren-Green.

Notwithstanding a heartfelt performance of the Elgar Cello Concerto, Lloyd Webber was keen to look ahead rather than to bask in past glories, which is why he ended the program playing alongside schoolchildren drawn from the In Harmony project that he chairs. It also explains the inclusion of the premiere of a work written specially for him: Eric Whitacre’s The River Cam for cello and strings, which the American composer also conducted.

“It’s just a little postcard [of the countryside near the English university city of Cambridge, where he spent the fall of 2010 as a Visiting Professor and Composer in Residence],” Whitacre told the orchestra during rehearsal.

Unnecessary modesty: the wistful beauty of this ten-minute work charmed audience and players alike.

After the piece had come together for the first time, Lloyd Webber was heard to exclaim, “I’m stunned.”

Andrew Palmer

Mail on Sunday April 24th 2011

Julian Lloyd Webber, Anniversary Gala, Royal Festival Hall, London


As a postscript to my tribute to Julian Lloyd Webber a fortnight ago, his 60th birthday gala was a joy because of the inspired blend of material, both familiar and unfamiliar.

Of course, room was found in the first half for Julian’s Elgar Concerto, but then he really let his hair down – and he’s still got a lot of it. There was some Villa-Lobos sexily sung by Danielle de Niese; some amazing Ellington with Cleo Laine throwing off her 83 years with all the charisma of a great trouper; and a beautiful, newly composed piece for cello and strings by the American Eric Whitacre in the best English pastoral tradition.

Room was also found for tributes to Julian’s father William, whose beautiful Benedictus was radiantly played by Tasmin Little, and birthday greetings from brother Andrew, accompanying Julian and his wife Jiaxin in some Phantom Of The Opera arrangements.

During a terrific evening Julian proved his versatility over and over again under the benevolent baton of another great friend, Christopher Warren-Green, and a tireless Philharmonia.

David Mellor