WORKS: Music for Cello & Piano by Villa-Lobos, Bach, Schumann, Scriabin, Rachmaninov, Grieg, Messiaen, .
PERFORMER: Julian Lloyd Webber (cello), John Lenehan (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 434 917-2 DDD
I find that a marked exhaustion factor creeps in while listening to discs of up to 20 items held together only by the distinction of a performer. Julian Lloyd Webber has tried to address this problem by programming 15 pieces all in slow tempi, so emphasising the lyric quality of the instrument. Lloyd Webber possesses a magnificent rich tone (and instrument), which are well suited to the lush Scriabin Etude Op. 8/11 and the suave Song of the Black Swan by Villa-Lobos.
The inclusion of the cello solo from Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time was an inspired idea, and the transcription of an Adagio from one of Bach’s cantatas is wickedly compelling, albeit Romantic. But this disc does lull. The release by American cellist Nathaniel Rosen takes the more traditional line of displaying the variety of music written or arranged for cello. He begins with an absolutely hair-raising performance of Popper’s notorious Elves’ Dance. His disc features more cello ‘lollipops’ – including Saint-Saëns’s The Swan, in a sadly unremarkable performance.
Rosen shines in fast pyrotechnics, but the hissy sound and the noise of a squeaky chair add nothing to his performance. On both discs the pianists (John Lenehan with Webber and Doris Stevenson with Rosen) accompany admirably, despite both, on occasion, proving too loud. Annette Morreau