A Tale of Two Cellos

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COMPOSERS: Monteverdi; Purcell; Holst; Pärt; Shostakovich; Quilter
ALBUM TITLE: A Tale of Two Cellos
WORKS: Arrangements of works by Monteverdi, Purcell, Holst; Pärt, Shostakovich, Quilter, et al
PERFORMER: Julian and Jiaxin Lloyd Webber (cellos), John Lenehan (piano), Catrin Finch (harp), Guy Johnston, Laura der Hejiden (cellos)


Following Evening Songs, his previous Naxos release of Delius and Ireland song arrangements, cellist Julian Lloyd Webber is joined by his wife, Jiaxin, in a wider range of brow-soothing material, mostly transcribed by Julian from vocal duets. There cannot be many CDs featuring both Pärt and Quilter, though variety of mood is not this collection’s strong suit. One also tires after a time of hearing two cellos, however tenderly played, so closely manacled harmonically. The most worthwhile tracks surround the cellists’ effusions with space, air and Catrin Finch’s harp. There are the Monteverdi and Purcell duets, the extract from Holst’s Choral Hymns from the Rig Veda (also featuring cellists Guy Johnson and Laura van der Heijden), and Pärt’s Estonian Lullaby.

The recording acoustic, slightly murky and claustrophobic, tends to hinder the more Romantic material (Dvoπák, Rachmaninov), though the sun sometimes shines when least expected. Joseph Barnby’s Victorian part song Sweet and Low shrugs off its dust to charm us, while William Lloyd Webber’s Moon Silver is almost haunting. Throughout, John Lenehan’s piano gives helpful support.


Geoff Brown