WORKS: Cello Sonata; Two Pieces; Serenade from Hassan; Romance; Cello Sonata in A minor; Intermezzo
PERFORMER: Julian Lloyd Webber (cello) Bengt Forsberg (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 454 458-2
Lloyd Webber and Forsberg make an exceptionally well-matched partnership in this disc of Delius and Grieg’s complete works for cello and piano. It’s easy to ride roughshod over Delius’s music, but here every dynamic, nuance and subtlety of tempo is delicately accomplished. The single-movement Sonata is a particularly rewarding experience: Lloyd Webber caresses the music and plays it with passionate conviction – from the opening melody, rising richly from the reverberant lower strings, through characteristic drooping minor thirds and languid rubatos, to a wonderful, uplifting culmination.
Forsberg’s renowned excellence as a recital partner provides Lloyd Webber with a much more sympathetic accompaniment than did Eric Fenby, with whom he has also recorded the work (on Unicorn-Kanchana) – despite Fenby’s eulogy on the Sonata, printed in the booklet notes.
The Grieg Sonata too is a treat, though more fire could have gone into the climaxes of the stormy first movement. The Andante is treated with such reverence that Lloyd Webber gives the impression that he hardly dares play it, while the folk-inspired finale inspires confident, rhythmically precise playing from both.
The character pieces which complete the disc include the early Delius Romance (1896): this shows most clearly the influence Grieg had on the younger composer at this stage. Janet Banks